Industrial reusable insulation can trace its origins to maritime applications as well as other industries looking to improve upon primitive products developed in the field. While crews on board ships at sea had little choice but to reuse insulation material, since resupplying insulation wasn’t a priority, workers in factories and other facilities would fabricate a new blanket on site once an old one needed replacement.
“Early technology in those fields was really predicated on the field insulation mechanic having the skill set to fabricate a blanket system that could be shaped to a component,” said Frank Kovacs, CEO of Shannon. “Consequently, the early applications were primitive … and would only be applied to critical components that were easy to cover.”
These basic coverings simply could not insulate more complex or large pieces of equipment and lacked the structural makeup to prevent corrosion. The introduction of material technologies, like silicone impregnated fiberglass and PTFE, or Teflon, helped to solve some of the issues with these early concepts, particularly the lack of a waterproof external covering. Another factor that improved on these earlier concepts was moving fabrication from the factory floor to a dedicated facility.
“A lot of those solutions also came from the idea that, instead of a mechanic in the field fabricating the blanket, you could do this in a manufacturing setting,” said Kovacs.
Insulation Technology, based in Chicago, and Buffalo-based Multiglass Products manufactured and sold some of these early industrial reusable blankets.
“There were a number of companies in the late 1970s and early 1980s that introduced this idea of a removable, reusable cover as a finished product,” Kovacs said. “There’s a manufacturing knowledge and concept applied to how these blanket sets are built, and as a result, quality control really drastically improved.”
Once these blankets began being manufactured as complete products, the introduction of CAD technology and CNC manufacturing machines were natural fits to further improve blanket design and quicken the process. This, in turn, led to the development of design standards, creating even greater product consistency, and greatly expanding the number of markets for these new blanket insulation systems.
“As a result of evolution, technology improvements, and a lot of experimentation, the market demand for this product has evolved into many market segments,”added Kovacs.