Phifer - Making Dark Colors Perform Better than Light Colors for Improved Solar Control Fabrics

The Challenge

Phifer, among other things, is one of the world’s largest producers of solar control fabrics for commercial and residential buildings. Phifer SheerWeave® fabrics are designed to reduce solar heat gain, protect against damaging UV and improve the comfort of any interior space. Phifer and Sigma teamed to develop a new class of solar control fabrics by combining Phifer’s already best-in-class yarn making and fabric weaving capabilities and Sigma’s knowledge and capabilities in thin film manufacturing. These efforts resulted in a new product known today as Phifer SheerWeave® Performance +.

The Problem - Dark Colors = Poor Performance

Unfortunately, when considering sunlight, not all colors are created equal. So, while lighter colored SheerWeave® fabrics exhibit high reflectivity - black fabrics of the same composition are highly absorbent. Phifer set out to develop a class of SheerWeave® fabrics where darker colors performed as good, if not better, than their lighter colored counterparts. The immediate solution was to simply vapor deposit a light-reflective aluminum layer onto the fabric surface - a solution that, as it turned out, was easier said than done.

The Technical Challenge - Making It Stick (And Last)

Phifer SheerWeave® fabrics are composed of fiberglass yarns coated with vinyl. Vinyl is notoriously difficult to adhere to due to the presence of plasticizers and other low molecular weight materials that bloom to the surface. So, simple metallization of the yarn surface was not sufficient. The final solution needed to exhibit superior abrasion resistance and protection of the vapor deposited aluminum from corrosion and oxidation.

The Solution

Sigma, using its VaporPhase™ deposition technology, was able to deposit a series of organic and inorganic layers capable of adhering to the Vinyl surface with excellent abrasion resistance. Perhaps most importantly, the reflective characteristics of the coated fabric allowed for excellent solar reflectivity, improved glare reduction, and improved outward visibility with lighter color fabrics.

SheerWeave® Performance + fabrics are produced by Phifer, coated by Sigma in Tucson, Arizona and can be purchased from Phifer dealers throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. Visit for more information.