Jacob Freeman, the technical director for Ahead, has used at least 300 different types of backing and believed the one he was using was the best, but was willing to tackle the challenge of creating one that could be better. Cap backing is vital when stabilizing the headgear surface during embroidery. Otherwise, the cap can have a tendency to shift or pucker in the frame, resulting in inconsistent designs from one cap to the next. Ahead produces a number of cap designs requiring 10,000 to 20,000 stitches, so it's important to not get behind with wasted production.
Another production concern is balance. If the backing is too tough, operators may struggle to tear it away after embroidery, even pulling stitches in the process. And if the backing is too light, it may pierce around high-stitch-count designs. Before this project, Freeman used a backing that was inconsistent and wasted a lot of time, effort and money, so he was looking for an improved approach.
After months of Stevens and Coleman visiting Ahead, along with H&V Senior Scientist Wai-Ming Chong, the end result was a very successful cap backing. The new cap backing was created with a cellulose/polyester non-woven that not only met all the demanding performance specs, but could be made at a reasonable cost.
And since initial introduction of the new backing in August 2006, Freeman seems to run nothing but StitchBackers Grade 3045. Freeman uses the backing on a majority of the company's headwear products including high-stitch-count designs, soft- and hard-crown caps, low-profile caps, sock hats, and scarves. And although the process was very time consuming to ensure the backing was just right, Freeman is very proud to say there's no other product like it on the market today.