Inventors and engineers can devise mitigation techniques on a massive scale when there are external natural forces that inconvenience people. However, with some problems, say the harm or nuisance of heat or rain while on the move, the solution can be intended just for a single person. This is the case with umbrellas, which individual people must use to take cover from the rain while not under a roof or some sort of support. These unique products are made from a variety of materials and must be designed so that they can resist many natural impacts. ASTM D4112-02: Standard Performance Specification for Woven Umbrella Fabrics provides guidelines for testing the durability of the fabric that acts as the main defense of the umbrella.
Umbrellas are unique compared to the other items that an individual might carry, since they are essentially a portable re-creation of a shelter that compresses into itself for easy mobility. The etymology of the word “umbrella” is as unique as the product itself. Many words in the English language have adapted from archaic forms of English and other Anglo-Saxon languages, and even drawing upon ancient tongues such as Latin or Greek. However, umbrella is an adaptation of the word umbra, which comes from the Italian ombrello. This in turn was derived from the Late Latin umbra, meaning “shade”, or umbella, meaning “parasol or sunshade”. The development of this word into our language involved adapting it from a foreign form to one similar to the original form.
Parasols have been around for thousands of years, intended for nobility to be protected from the sun to preserve their pale skin. The first waterproof parasol was crafted out of leather in 11th Century BC China, which was also intended for nobility and sold at a high price. For two centuries after the Renaissance, parasols were only fashionable for high-class women to use, until Englishman traveler Jonas Hanway began to carry a more-durable, waterproof parasol. His use of this portable canopy helped to popularize what became the widespread modern umbrella.
The durability of umbrellas is essential so that they can resist rain, wind, and relatively extreme levels of heat. ASTM D4112-02 lists specification requirements that can secure the resistivity of the fabric used in the umbrella to oppose these natural forces. This includes tests that expose the fabric to water for a certain period of time to determine whether or not it can withstand a realistic amount of rainfall. It also determines the potential slippage of the yarn, assigning an acceptable amount between each thread at no greater than 6 mm. It also provides testing guidelines to assess the breaking force, flammability, and potential to tear the cloth.
The pieces used to support and open the cloth of the umbrella should also be designed so that they can keep the cloth open as it is struck by rain at any intensity. They will also act as one of the main resistances against the wind. The supports should ideally be designed so that the top of the umbrella does not invert itself and inconvenience the user even more than not having an umbrella at all. It is also essential that these supports are designed specifically in consideration of the cloth that they will be paired with, so that they do not damage it. These supports and the handle of the umbrella are traditionally composed mostly of metal, depending on the specific model of the product.
As products once reserved for only the highest classes, umbrellas both protect people and let them enjoy a luxury that would have excluded the common person in recent history. Because of this, while using umbrellas, people might embody the attitude of past nobility, with no regard for the peasants around them. This can lead to a lot of annoyances for the people who don’t act like this. For example, have you ever been hit in the side of the head with someone else’s umbrella, blocked from a sidewalk by a slow-moving umbrella user, or even poked in the eye from one of the tips? Unfortunately, the standard acknowledges that there really aren’t any testing techniques that can provide safety measures to control the carelessness use of an umbrella. Since umbrellas today are for all people and not just noble women, the user of the umbrella needs to be careful while carrying an open umbrella, both for their safety and anyone in their surroundings. Well-made umbrellas used considerately allow all people to enjoy this luxury during inclement weather.