Turning Custom Into “Semi-Custom” Revolutionizes the Marine Canvas Industry

Custom Boat Enclosure - Nomar

Custom Boat Enclosure – NOMAR Custom Boat Enclosure

If you have spent any length of time on a boat, you are probably very grateful for marine canvas. Marine canvas products allow a sailor to adjust the amount of shelter needed from the elements at a given time. Everything on a boat that is made of fabric (except for the sail) is made of marine canvas – biminis, dodgers, enclosures, for instance. Not only do these products have to look beautiful, as the upholstery on a million dollar yacht, they have to withstand extreme fabric-degrading conditions, including wind, rain, salt water, and constant sun.

Marine canvas doesn’t just appear on boats – equipment covers endure most of the same elements on land. What all of these products have in common is that they come in complex 3D shapes that are not often mass produced. 

Waterproof Rifle Case-Nomar

Waterproof Rifle Case – NOMAR

That’s where Autometrix products save marine canvas manufacturers a lot of time. Our pattern digitizing, editing and parametric design software, and cutting tables turn custom products into semi-custom products, by providing a starting shape and tweaking it to fit the custom shape, instead of plotting each point by hand from scratch each time.

It’s revolutionizing the industry. John Palmer, founder of Autometrix, explains what automating pattern making and cutting means for marine canvas businesses: “What used to take an hour can now be done in 15 seconds,” he said. “Instead of making two in a day, you can make 20-30 in a day. We can’t take over your job, but we can really speed up your process.”

The process isn’t just faster – it turns out a better product. Precision automation means better accuracy. “We continue working to make pattern making easier, faster, more accurate, and better than ever before,” said Palmer. “There used to be a quarter to half inch of play in patterns that were measured and cut by hand — now it all fits perfectly. That makes a big difference to the person doing the sewing in the marine canvas industry.”

And, it’s less expensive. Autometrix’s CADShot mobile, which allows users to measure patterns with an app on their smart phone, costs much less than other pattern measurement tools, which can set you back up to $25K. Don’t worry – if you’ve already invested in that other tool, you can still use it. The PatternSmith software can help you optimize patterns generated by other tools, smoothing out arcs and curves to make your pattern fit and look better.

We used to have to cut everything by hand. What would take a week of cutting for 1000 bags, now takes us a day.

Leza Ball, Retail Manager – NOMAR

Digitizing patterns and using Autometrix fabric cutting tables has certainly helped NOMAR. NOMAR manufactures marine canvas products in a place that relies heavily on such things – Alaska. NOMAR’s business took off when they started manufacturing a new kind of brailer bag, which is a bag used to transport fish off of a fishing boat. Previously any salmon that touched the bag became marked and sold for less money. NOMAR’s smooth-material bags did not mark the fish, and quickly became the new industry standard. The company took its name from the phrase “No marka the fish.” Now, in addition to manufacturing all kinds of gear for fisheries, they make everything from clothing to custom boat and equipment covers to industrial strength gear bags and waterproof rifle cases. 

Brailer Bag - NomarAll of these products rely on Autometrix technology. Leza Ball, Retail Manager, explains how Autometrix has changed their business: “We used to have to cut everything by hand,” she said. “What would take a week of cutting for 1000 bags, now takes us a day. We’re able to fill a lot more orders now, and meet our deadlines.”  

Automating the cutting process has done more than just increase production at NOMAR. Richard Mitchell, Head of Production and Custom Shop Guru at NOMAR, was hesitant at first about investing in a cutting table, but when he saw how much time and materials he could save, he realized that it made sense for his business. “Our cut table has completely improved every aspect of our little sew shop here in Homer Alaska,” he said.  “In some cases, it takes longer to get the roll on the table than it does to cut it.  And now we have totes of precut pieces ready to sew rather than a dusty box of scrap that should get cut into something someday.” Best of all, he was able to do more with the same number of employees: “No one was let go but  that cut person is now also cutting web, inspecting, packaging, shipping, tracking inventory, sweeping , emptying the trash and learning to sew.” Mitchell explored a lot of different options before choosing Autometrix. In the end, it was the customer support at Autometrix that won him over: “The service and support we get from Autometrix is first class — it’s like they are a part of the team.”


Is your marine canvas business ready to explore how automation can speed up your process? Contact Autometrix for more information.