Vulcanised Fibreboard: Globe-Trotter's Secret Weapon

07 Nov 17


Vulcanised Fibreboard: Globe-Trotter's Secret Weapon - GLOBE-TROTTER

A look at the closely guarded processes that go into making our legendary luggage. Vulcanised Fibreboard.

What makes a Globe-Trotter? Well, let’s start with the suitcase design; a distinctive, vintage style that has become nothing short of iconic. Then there’s the brand heritage and the fact that every product is made by hand in the UK – just as it has been for the past 120 years. But the one thing that really makes a Globe-Trotter is its core material; vulcanised fibreboard. All Globe-Trotter suitcases, from the very first models to the latest collections, are made from vulcanised fibreboard, renowned for its tough yet lightweight properties. But what exactly is this mysterious material?

It’s paper

Vulcanised fibreboard (also known as vulcan fibre) was invented in 1859 by Englishman Thomas Taylor. This tough material is formed of paper, cotton and wood pulp, 14 layers of which are specially bonded together (or ‘vulcanised’) and saturated in a special solution, then compressed to the desired thickness. The exact formula is one of its most closely guarded secrets.

It’s unique to Globe-Trotter

Globe-Trotter patented the use of vulcan fibre in 1902 and is the only company in the world to use it in this way.

It’s sustainable

The paper used in production is a mixture of recycled paper and virgin wood pulp from sustainable forests. Each sheet takes thousands of gallons of fresh water to produce, so each vulcan fibre factory must be beside a major river. The effluent is fully treated and the water is returned to the river many times cleaner than the water extracted. The finished boards are free from any glues, resins or binders.

It’s the most critical component of making a Globe-Trotter suitcase

Vulcanised fibreboard is strong yet incredibly lightweight – the ideal quality for luggage, but not for manufacturing. In fact, working with the material is the most crucial and difficult aspect of production, given its delicate and stubborn nature. Moulding vulcanised fibreboard into the desired shape is a process done by hand using a patented technique that requires a precise combination of heat and pressure. It’s no mean feat, as just one slip up can cause the material to crack.

Vulcanised Fibreboard is here to stay

There have been plenty of imitatations over the years, many using far inferior cardboard materials, but Globe-Trotter’s patented formula remains unsurpassed more than a century on.

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