1992, San Diego. The America3 (pronounced “America cubed”) team hoists its sails, ready for the prestigious America’s Cup sailing competition. The press and the other competitors have been mocking the underdog team for weeks – but that all changes when the race begins, because the speed enabled by America3’s ultra-light sails is immediately apparent.

Later, when asked about the technology behind their sails, the now-victorious team has a simple response: “Well, it usually takes 12 people to carry a main sail out to a boat, but this time we did it with four.”

Diamond Background

How Cuben Fiber became Dyneema® Composite Fabric

America3’s secret? A unique fabric developed by Heiner Meldner, a nuclear physicist and expert in aerodynamic design, and RJ Downs, a Stanford University composites engineer. This composite fabric is a “high-tech sandwich” of high-performance fibers, with ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fused with two outer layers of polyester.

If it sounds familiar, you might know it as Cuben Fiber – named after America3. That name would stick around long after the team’s 1992 win, before eventually becoming the Dyneema® Composite Fabric (DCF) that we know and love today.

Why the change? Meldner and Downs founded the Cuben Fiber Corporation to continue manufacturing the fabric, ultimately moving its operations from the San Francisco Bay Area in California to Mesa, AZ. In 2007, the Cuben Fiber sailing division was sold to North Sails. Renamed Cubic Tech Corp, it continued to push the technology’s limits in applications ranging from airships, parachutes, and medical devices to footwear, tents, and backpacks.

Fast forward to 2015: the maker of Dyneema® UHMWPE fiber purchased Cubic Tech, with Cuben Fiber being renamed Dyneema® Composite Fabric. Since then, Dyneema® has continued to innovate our product portfolio. In 2020, bio-based Dyneema® fiber was incorporated into all Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, as part of our commitment to improving the environmental footprint of our products and supporting the transition toward a circular, bio-based economy.

Global presence, local production

Thanks to our global manufacturing facilities, Dyneema® supports customers around the world … but Dyneema® Composite Fabric remains proudly made in the USA at our production site in Mesa.

This means our North American customers can offer brands and consumers an American-made product – something that’s greatly appreciated by buyers eager to support US manufacturing, especially given today’s high consumer demand for transparency on product sustainability and sourcing. Of course, “American made” is also a solution to volatile international supply chains, high logistics costs, and long transport times.

Setting sail for future victories

We’ve come a long way since that famous 1992 America’s Cup win. Indeed, production of Dyneema® Composite Fabric has tripled since 2015, and we’ve recently expanded capacity even further to meet growing demand.

With the wind in our sails, we’re looking forward to continuing to grow, and delivering winning solutions to customers – both here in the USA and overseas – for many years to come.

Are you interested in learning more about how we can help you deliver high-performance solutions with Dyneema® Composite Fabrics?

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Interested in learning more about Dyneema® for your project or end-use application? Reach out to our team of experts today.

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