A Look Inside: How Smoke Guard Curtains Are Made

Being a one-stop-shop for innovative smoke and fire protection products doesn’t happen overnight. Smoke Guard has spent decades focusing on bringing the most successful and innovative products to the market.

Let’s explore the Smoke Guard production process and learn more about how these industry-leading smoke and fire curtains are made.

Selection of Curtain Materials

Depending on the type of curtain needed, there are various types of materials available for use. Elevator curtains employ the use of non-flammable high-performance film and select types of fabric are used for vertical, horizontal and perimeter curtains.

Film and Fabric

  • High-Temperature Film: Smoke Guard is often known as the “original orange smoke curtain” and that signature orange color comes from the non-flammable high-performance film. This transparent material is reinforced with a scrim for rip-stop which provides an excellent level of heat and flame resistance.
  • Smoke-Rated Fabric: Used in smoke rated applications, this fiberglass-based fabric is made to withstand higher temperatures up to 400˚F according to UL 1784 standards, but may not withstand direct flame as well as a fire-rated curtain.
  • Fire-Rated Fabric: Some curtains, as dedicated by application and code requirements, use fire-rated fabric that is woven with steel fiber and designed to withstand more extreme temperatures of ˚1000F or more. These curtains meet UL 10D standards and can be exposed to direct flame for up to two hours.

Hardware and Powder Coating

Galvanized steel is typically used in Smoke Guard curtains. Galvanized steel is one of the more robust metals in terms of its ability to withstand many different environments, an important feature for curtains that are exposed to different elements and climates all over the world. Even the auxiliary rails on elevator systems, if needed, can be made from 430 stainless steel which contains iron.

All of Smoke Guard’s curtains have a powder coating on the housing, except elevator curtains, with the powder coating also an option for the side guides at an additional charge. This powder coating is an electrostatically charged particle that is baked on to the surface and can be made into any color.

The Production Process

Typically, it can take anywhere from one to two years to fully launch a new product. During this time, careful consideration is given to the design, engineering and production of a curtain, ensuring it meets or exceeds all standards.

This focus to attention and detail has also enabled us to drastically improve our production process for elevator curtains and larger smoke curtains. Once a product officially goes into production, the process varies depending on the type of curtain.

Elevator Curtains

Essentially, elevator curtains are made of a high-performance film, magnets and the adhesive used to bond the two. Smoke Guard elevator curtains are produced in-house and our unique approach to engineering has taken what used to be a 26-27-hour process and shortened it to approximately 15 minutes.

On an elevator curtain production line, there are between 4-7 people working, depending on the workload for the day, with specific team members assigned to making the screen. There is also one person solely dedicated to making replacements for elevator curtains that have been damaged or have been in the field for an extended period.

  1. The order is reviewed, and all parts are assembled by a team member and sent to the production area.
  2. One team member is assigned with the task of making the screen while the other components are being assembled.
  3. A “one-piece flow system” is used to assemble the elevator curtain. One team member begins building the housing, the return (back of housing) and installing hardware. This process is completed on a cart that then moves to the next team member who assembles the motor and the cables that attach the screen to the housing. Overall, the elevator curtain goes through several stations like these before it goes to testing.
  4. Once the screen and housing assembly have been created, the curtain is sent to a test stand where it will be mounted and site-tested five times.
  5. Once the elevator curtain has been tested, it will be packaged and sent to shipping.

Vertical, Horizontal and Perimeter Curtains

Sewn curtains that use special, high-performance fabric take a little longer to create compared to elevator curtains. These larger curtains can also have more custom design requirements to fit their intended space.

This can range from a simple shape like a rectangle for horizontal or vertical curtains to a more complicated accordion-style design like our M4000 perimeter curtain that requires more sewing time.

  1. Smoke Guard’s sales integration engineering team creates the required design and sends the cut lines to the manufacturing team.
  2. A manufacturing team member cuts and assembles all needed parts. If powder coating is requested, the curtain components will now get painted. If no painting is required, the parts will be kitted to await assembly.
  3. During this time, the curtain is prepared for final assembly.
  4. Once the curtain and housing assembly have been created, it is installed into a test fixture where it will be site-tested five times.
  5. Once the curtain has been tested, it will be packaged and sent to shipping.

Environmental Impacts

At Smoke Guard, we do our best to minimize waste during the production process. One of the biggest ways we accomplish this goal is by reusing screens when possible. For example, when creating custom widths for wide screens, unused screen material is always saved and later used for other screens that have specific size requirements the unused material will work with.

Industry Leaders in Fire and Smoke Protection

Our commitment to fire and smoke protection has established Smoke Guard as an industry leader. We’ve installed more than 73,000 systems worldwide to help protect all types of buildings. Smoke Guard products are featured in airports, historic buildings, hotels, museums and hospitals around the world.

Want to learn more? Take a look at some of our favorite projects and see how we’ve helped architects and building owners find solutions for fire safety that meet local code and maintain design integrity.

Need help designing your space for fire safety? Find a Smoke Guard distributor here.