Have you ever wondered just how a drysuit is made? Well we took a visit to Oceanic and Hollis’s Headquarters down in Devon and got them to demonstrate the process that goes into making one – and if you thought it was easy then think again! Each drysuit is carefully handmade and takes between 8 – 15 hours to make from scratch.
Now, each and every drysuit is made in a slightly different way, however they do all follow similar stages and here is a breakdown of the 8 stages that go into the production of any drysuit:
Stage 1: Measurements Every drysuit is made to measure so when your order comes into the workshop, the first stage is quite simply to identify which patterns coincide with your suit’s measurements.
Stage 2: Cutting Once the measurements have been confirmed, each pattern acts as a ‘stencil’ which is then drawn around onto the relevant material of your chosen suit and is then carefully cut out.
Stage 3: Ancillaries Now that each section has been cut out it’s the perfect time to attach any additional items to the suit before it’s all assembled, so during this stage items such as pockets and zips are stitched to the relevant sections of the suit.
Stage 4: Assembly With all the main ancillaries now attached it is time to assemble each individual section of the suit together. This is done through a combination of gluing and stitching all of the different sections together with great precision.
Stage 5: Taping Seams The suit is now whole, however due to the stitching and gluing it’s not 100% waterproof at the seams, therefore each and every seam now needs to be taped in order to make it waterproof. Taping of the seams is a very skilled technique which makes use of a nylon tape with a glue-like membrane on top. During the process a machine heats the glue on top of the nylon strip and is immediately pressed down onto the material - bonding the nylon tape to the suit.
Stage 6: Final Additions Now that the suit is fully assembled and sealed at each seam, the final additions can be made. These will include such items as neck and wrist seals as well as boots, socks and valves depending on which suit you are purchasing. All additions at this stage are attached to the suit by a base coat of glue and are then taped in order to make the seams waterproof.
Stage 7: Testing The suit is now complete and ready for testing. Firstly, plugs are applied to any openings in the suit to make it air-tight. The suit is then placed into a tank of water, filled with air and then submerged underwater to check for any leaks to ensure the suit is in perfect condition. Once testing is complete, the suit is then hung to dry thoroughly.
Stage 8: Quality Control So the suit is almost ready to go, it just needs a few finishing touches. Firstly the suit has one last check for safety, it is then cleaned, labelled and packaged ready to be sent out to you.
And that is a simple overview of how a drysuit is made from start to finish. As we mentioned earlier, each and every drysuit is made differently but we hope you have found this information interesting and appreciate each of the main stages that go into the production of any drysuit.