Over the years we have developed many different methods of creating divewear that fits. The computer software system that we now use to create the Seaskin drysuits produces a new individual pattern for everyone, using the body measurements to output over a hundred data reference points which combined with the use of traditional tailoring skills gives great fitting suits. The suits are individually cut on our digital cutting table for absolute accuracy.
The success or failure of any drysuit ultimately comes down to the integrity of the seams. The sealing method employed not only needs to work when the suit is new but also years down the line. A good seam has to be physically strong, flexible and durable to abrasion but most importantly not let water in. The way we achieve these attributes is very different for the Nova membrane and the Ultra compressed neoprene. The design of panel layout also affects the performance of the seams reducing the stress on areas such as under the arms and crutch not only make the suit more comfortable but also decrease wear on these sections.
Nova Membrane drysuit seam technology
Once the various panels of trilaminate fabric are accurately cut the assembly can begin. Using rot proof nylon thread the panels are sewn together using a single needle lockstitch, then the seam is opened out and given a double line of stitching. This gives the seam its great strength. The next stage requires the seam to be coated four times with a specially formulate for the marine environment, two part neoprene adhesive. This coats are left to dry between each application until when the final coat is still tacky a 0.7mm thick 38mm wide neoprene tape that has also had adhesive applied is placed into position. The application of this tape to the suit is a highly skilled job. The whole seam is thoroughly rolled down by hand particular attention being given to the intersections. After only a few hours the seam can take great hydrostatic pressures but only reaches its full strength a week later. With almost 20 metres of tape going into a Nova suit it is hardly surprising that they take some time to build. Only when the very best of fabrics and material are combined with skill and patience can a reliable suit be produced.
Ultra compressed neoprene drysuit seam technology
Accurate cutting the panels is even more critical on compressed neoprene, a clean vertical cut is vital to give a good strong foundation to the seam. The exposed neoprene is coated three times with adhesive, being left to dry between coats until the final coat is tacky when the panels are pushed together. The aliment of the outer surfaces when joining two curved panels together require great skill. Once in position the seam is pneumatically nipped together. The stitching is performed on a specialist machine that has a curved needle. Using a very strong polyester thread the outside seam is stitched, the needle set to rock back and forth so the neoprene is only penetrated to a depth of 1.5mm, i.e. half way through. This in theory gives a strong and waterproof system, however to ensure it stays dry for the life of the suit a further waterproofing process begins. The inside seams are coated with 4 layers do a urethane sealant (Industrial Aquasure) an expensive and time consuming process done by hand with great care. The result is a seam construction that is the best available, giving dry dives for many years.
Hand gluing seams on an Ultra Drysuit.
Once manufactured every suit we produce undergoes an extensive pressure test by inflating it underwater in our custom built test tank. A full report is created before the suit is cleared for dispatch