Cantilevered sun shades, freestanding industrial umbrellas, and other permanent outdoor shade structures keep us comfortable in the heat. A lot of focus is naturally given to the UV resistance of their components, but what’s often lost in translation when we call such permanent structures “sun shades” is this:
They don’t disappear when there’s precipitation.
Soft goods—including ropes—in an industrial umbrella shade are at their best when they don’t absorb water or rot. This is especially true of scrim shade umbrellas that filter and dim sunlight but won’t prevent water from passing through onto the pulley system. Moisture on the pulley system hardware will soak into tension lines and degrade the components with mildew, corrosion, and weakened fibers over years of use.
Industrial Umbrellas vs. Rain, Dew, and Humidity
It may or may not be the intent of a given industrial umbrella to shelter folks from precipitation—but that won’t change the fact that outdoor materials are exposed to water. Metal components can rust, and ropes can swell with water, creating harmful and frustrating friction in the system.
We cannot think of umbrella shades purely as sun barriers. Even in a dry climate, varying temperatures, especially during the early morning hours at certain times of the year, can create a buildup of dew that coats outdoor shade structures with water. And when it does rain, the materials will be drenched.
When building permanent outdoor shade structures, select materials that are optimized for wet and sunny environments. Ronstan hardware and ropes have been rigorously tested in the marine industry, which means they’re designed to brave the harsh environs of the open ocean. We prefer soft goods and hardware made with:
- Synthetic HMPE fibers, like Dyneema® ropes
- High-grade acetal
- Glass-reinforced nylon plastic
- Anodized aluminum
- Marine-grade 316 stainless steel
Pulley blocks comprised of industrial-strength nylon and acetal are superior to all-metal options due to their lighter weight, impressive durability, affordability, and imperviousness to moisture. Marine steel also won’t rust or corrode where additional strength is required. Dyneema® ropes like Ocean 3000 and Ocean 5000 will not absorb water and can’t rot like organic ropes.
Industrial Umbrellas vs. Sunlight, Heat, and UV Radiation
UV-stabilized acetal and other UV-resistant synthetics are ideal for fighting UV degradation in an industrial-grade pulley system. Unlike traditional plastics, these polymers have been combined with anti-UV chemicals during formulation to boost the resilience of the plastic in outdoor, sunny environments.
Glass-reinforced plastics—such as the glass-fiber-infused nylon in our Ronstan Series 40 Cheek Block—can also withstand increased UV radiation, since glass is highly stable and durable under constant sun exposure. Incidentally, the nylon in that line of Ronstan blocks is also packed with molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). This composition further enhances the thermal (sun exposure), mechanical, and bearing properties of nylon without affecting its basic chemical and electrical properties.
In terms of soft goods, you’ve got three options:
- Select a naturally UV-resistant fiber like polyester
- Have your ropes SL coated to ward off UV, like Ocean 3000 Dyneema®
- Sleeve your rope in a shell of UV-resistant material
The bottom line is that whichever components you select for your industrial umbrella shade, they should be optimized to perform wet or dry, rain or shine.