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BRM marks 100 years in business

In the Industry | November 27, 2023 | By:

An array of narrow fabrics from Bally Ribbon Mills that are used in Space.  From left, Vectran yarn used in webbing for space habitats and deceleration systems for rapid recovery or landing equipment; Zylon used in flight suits; PVO Zylon used for inflatable heat shields in deceleration systems. Photo: Marie O’Mahony

Bally Ribbon Mills, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, was founded with the purchase of a silk mill in 1923 and the manufacture of narrow band material that was mainly used for intimate apparel and hat bands. Today it manufactures a range of narrow fabrics including highly technical materials used in medical applications and aerospace. 

During World War II the company moved to more technical fabrics to support the war effort, providing parachute webbing that was then made from cotton. The company has continued to develop and manufacture Berry Amendment-compliant webbing. Today, it works closely with leading yarn and chemical companies to help characterize these new fibers and see how they might utilize them in a narrow fabric. 

Its number one innovation, which it showcased at ATA’s Expo 2023, is its e-webbing with electronic functionality embedded within the material. According to Ted Fetterman, vice president of sales and marketing, it still needs further work for full commercialization. The company has been working on this since 2015.

Another innovation revolves around optimizing weave design for habitation in Space, where webbing is used as a tensile structure for applications requiring a more exotic, high-strength fiber. A key requirement here is maximizing the strength-to-weight ratio because of the cost of transporting them.

Dr. Marie O’Mahony is an industry consultant, author and academic. She can be reached at

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