Humans have used umbrellas for a long time to protect people from the rain and the scorching sun. You might have had one as a child, and it was a joyful accompaniment to your rain boots and coats as you jumped in puddles. You probably still use one now, not just as part of your play gear but to serve protective purposes.
All umbrellas, whether children’s umbrellas, telescopic ones, or beach umbrellas, are made up of similar parts. What are the features of an umbrella? How can you identify them, and why are they essential in each umbrella?
Below, we outline the different parts of an umbrella and help you understand what functions they serve and how you can customize each piece for your unique purposes.
This is the topmost part of an umbrella. Depending on the type and use of the umbrella, it could take any shape, flat, pointed, conic, etc. It can also be made from different kinds of materials, could be wooden, made of plastic as in the case with children’s umbrellas, made of fiber-glass or a flat case.
Ferrules are usually pushed on the umbrella’s tips, then screwed on, then finally sewn or glued to the end of the ribs.
This is the most prominent part of any umbrella. It is the tented part of the umbrella that is shaped like a dome. It is usually the deciding factor for most buyers as it is the part of the umbrella that serves the primary purpose of an umbrella—protection.
Most umbrella canopies are made from pongee fabric, a tightly woven fabric that’s medium weight, balanced, and used to manufacture several materials, including jackets and coats. For umbrellas, pongee is treated with a scotch-guard finish on the top and dyed with an acrylic coating underneath.
Most umbrellas are also coated with Teflon, which makes the fabric rainproof and protects it against wear and tear. This coating does not affect the color of the canopy’s fabric or distort whatever branding or customization is meant to be applied to the canopy.
These ensure that the fabric resists wear and tear and never loses its shape, and retains its soft touch. Other materials used for umbrella canopies include PVC, plastic, and nylon.
The canopy of an umbrella is usually made up of different panels. For pocket umbrellas, six panels could be used. Long umbrellas have eight panels; some also have ten panels, which provides a more stable frame for the umbrella. These panels ensure that the umbrella maintains its structural integrity.
The external canopy is the top part of the umbrella that shields you from the sun or the rain. It can be printed, dyed, or painted. The internal canopy is the part of the umbrella that you can see when you look up into an open umbrella. Some people also print, dye, and paint on this part of the umbrella too.
Brands take advantage of the wide surface that the internal and external canopy offers to print brand messages on them or just to brand them. A lot of people also use umbrellas as party favors and customize the canopies to their taste.
3. Vented Canopy
An umbrella can also have a vented canopy, which has two layers of overlapping fabric. The vented canopy has its unique design; the vent allows wind to move through its layers instead of against the canopy. This helps to prevent the canopy from turning inside out during a particularly windy day.
The notch is attached directly to the shaft of the umbrella. It connects the ribs to the shaft of the umbrella through the runner. While some notches are made out of metal, most are made of plastic.
An umbrella would not have the dome shape that we all know and love without its ribs. The ribs are the framework of the canopy; they give it its structure and form. They run from the top of the canopy to the edge. Without the ribs, the canopy will not be a canopy; instead, it would be a limp piece of fabric that cannot offer protection from wind, sun, or rain.
A top-notch is fitted to the umbrella’s top to fix the rib to the rest of the umbrella. The stretchers on the ribs are then connected to the umbrella shaft, facilitating the umbrella’s upward and downward movement when you open or close it.
Some types of ribs can withstand constant usage; this includes fiber-glass ribs. Other types of materials are also used to make ribs, including aluminum, steel, or bamboo.
A stretcher is attached to the ribs of the umbrella. As its name implies, its function is to stretch out the canopy when the umbrella is being opened. An end of the stretcher is attached to the shaft, while the other is attached to the canopy. This assists the ribs in the movement of the umbrella when it is being opened or closed.
A joiner is a metal hinge that opens and closes at an angle of more than 90 degrees. It connects those ribs to the stretcher making the movement between both parts easy.
A runner is an essential part of the umbrella. It is usually made of metal or plastic in some cases. It is the part that slides up and down the umbrella’s shaft and is pushed up by the totality of the umbrella’s mechanisms. It slides up the shaft when you are opening it and slides down when it is being closed. Automatic and manual umbrellas both have a runner facilitating the up and down movement of the canopy, ribs, and joiner.
This is also a very quiet distinctive part of all umbrellas. Like the canopy, it is one of the customer’s deciding factors when choosing an umbrella. Handles do not only serve aesthetic purposes, but they are also quite functional. As such, this part of the umbrella is entirely customizable.
While many umbrellas have a curved handle, many others have a straight handle or even a telescopic handle (in the case of telescopic umbrellas)—these have a button embedded in it to open and close the umbrella.
Handles come in different sizes and can also be made of different materials. As such, they can have different textures. For instance, a manual golf handle has an EVA foam handle, many folding umbrellas are made of plastic and have a push-button on them.
Some umbrellas are made to double as walking sticks, so they are curved and can be made out of different finely finished wood types.
Handles also offer an excellent avenue for branding, especially if brands do not want to be so conspicuous about including their branding on the canopy.
10. Handle Ring
Also called a tip cup, a handle ring is usually part of the handle. It is situated just above the handle of an umbrella, and it serves aesthetic and functional purposes. It is where the canopy rests when the umbrella is closed. It allows the umbrella to be kept safe when it is closed. Most handle rings are the same diameter as the umbrella handle as they have to rest on the handle or are parts of the handle. However, they are wider than the shaft to ensure that the umbrella tips can fit closely at the bottom of the shaft. It can be engraved or customized for brands or for anyone looking to imprint some sort of text or image on party favors.
This is the push-button system that controls the opening and closing of an automatic closing and opening umbrella. For some of these umbrellas, you have to press the canopy closed along the shaft to ensure that the dramatic works properly.
The shaft is the piece on which all other parts of the umbrella rest. It is attached to the handle, and the ribs, canopy, joiner, runner, stretcher, and notch are all connected to it. Shafts can be made of several varied materials, including steel, wood, carbon fiber, fiberglass, and aluminum.
A metal shaft is usually hollow to allow the catch spring to be inserted. On the other hand, a hollow is generally created in a wood shaft to make space for the catch spring.
13. Tie wrap
This is usually made of the same fabric as the canopy. It does not necessarily need to have the same color or design as the canopy (although it does in most cases), but it most certainly should complement the canopy.
Tie wraps are wrapped around a closed umbrella, and they are used to secure and keep the umbrella closed. They can also be used to customize the umbrella with brand messages, etc.
14. Wrist Strap
Compact models of umbrellas usually have a strap that helps users attach the umbrella to their wrists. This makes for easy transportation— during and after use and ensures that you never forget your umbrella. Wrist straps are made of nylon, elastic, or polyester. They can also present a branding opportunity.
Also called a slipcover, an umbrella sleeve is used to store the umbrella after use and transportation of the umbrella. It is usually cylindrical, made of the same material as the umbrella, and it often bears the same print as the canopy of the umbrella. Umbrella sleeves have a lot of value for customization and branding. This can be done to match the branding on the canopy, handle, or wrist strap.
16. Top Pin
This is a pin located on the upper part of the shaft. It prevents the umbrella’s canopy from turning inside out or sliding past the top of the umbrella. It comes in quite handy in windy situations.
17. Top Spring
This is located close to the top of the shaft. It holds the runner in place when the umbrella is open to prevent it from closing unexpectedly. It is usually found on manual-open umbrellas and is made of metal. To close the umbrella, the top spring is pressed by the umbrella’s mechanisms to the shaft to allow the runner to pass by until the umbrella is fully closed.
18. Bottom Spring
This is similar to the top spring but is located towards the bottom of the shaft. The function of the bottom spring is to hold the runner in place when the umbrella is closed. Without this spring, the runner would keep the umbrella open all the time. Therefore, while the spring is a minute part of the umbrella’s design, it plays an essential role.
19. Center Spring
Have you ever wondered how telescopic umbrellas can reduce in height so conveniently? The center spring is usually placed at the middle of the shaft to allow the shaft’s size to get extended or reduced.
An umbrella’s tips are the ends of the ribs that extend past the canopy into small thick ball shapes. Their essential function is to protect the person using the umbrella and other people around during the umbrella’s usage or storage. This is because most ribs have sharp and dangerous ends. Umbrella tips can be either wooden or plastic.
Manufacturing an Umbrella
An umbrella could have all or most of these details, depending on its design and function. Here, we outline the process of manufacturing an umbrella.
1. Deciding Its Use
The first step to take before starting to manufacture an umbrella is to decide what it will be used for and who will use it. Do you want a beach umbrella for people who want to hang out at the beach or a children’s umbrella or a handy telescopic umbrella? The use of the umbrella would determine what kind of umbrella and how exactly it will be manufactured.
2. Selecting Fabric
After deciding what type of umbrella to create, it is vital to find the right fabric. A variety of materials is used to make umbrellas. This includes nylon taffeta, plastic, and, more recently, microfiber fabrics.
3. Sample Making
After the client decides on the fabric and type of umbrella, he also chooses what customization elements are to be added to the design. A sample is then made and shown to the client. Once this is approved, production of the umbrella can commence.
Umbrellas are made by a hand-assembly process, with each part of the umbrella meticulously built to be durable and serve protective purposes.
- First, the shaft is built with materials such as steel, aluminum, or wood. It is the frame upon which other parts will be built upon.
- Ribs, stretchers, and other parts of the frame are then assembled from steel or other materials. The ribs are attached to the umbrella’s shaft; then, the stretchers are joined to the shaft with a runner.
- After the ribs and stretchers are attached to the shaft, the canopy is usually handsewn in individual panels. These are then sewn to the outer edge of the ribs.
- The umbrella’s tip is then added to the shaft and covered with a ferrule (depending on the client’s specifications). Then, the handle is connected to the shaft and screwed or glued on.
- Finally, the umbrella is packaged according to the customer’s demands (with an umbrella sleeve in the case of a telescopic umbrella and some long umbrellas) and sent to the customer.
Knowing and understanding the different parts that make up an umbrella is necessary for manufacturers and people in the umbrella business. We have explained in detail all the features of an umbrella and how they work. If you would like to manufacture your umbrellas based on specific parts we have outlined, reach out to us at [email protected] to begin. We handle umbrella manufacturing like pros!