Kites aren’t made of a single piece of fabric. They’re a smart puzzle which combines several secondary structures, panels, and fabrics interconnected by advanced seaming and stitching techniques.
Contrary to popular belief, the main material used in the kite’s canopy is not ripstop nylon. The majority of modern kitesurfing kites are made of polyester because it has a superior UV resistance.
The only downside is that polyester kites can be more easily ripped and torn, compared to ripstop nylon kites.
Polyester is a synthetic polymer made of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) or its dimethyl ester dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) and monoethylene glycol (MEG).
But kites need to able to resist a lot of challenges. They will fall into the water, and drop from the sky, fast as a bullet, into the beach, parking lots, rocks, or grass. That’s why, more recently, kite companies have been blending the polyester core with other materials.
Cuben fiber (CTF3), mylar, dacron DP175, high-tenacity dacron, polyurethane (TPU), ballistic kevlar, and even neoprene are added to reinforce and improve the overall structure.
Recycled materials are still rarely used, but sooner or later they’ll start being put to the crash test. The problem with less conventional fabrics is that there’s just too much pressure for kites to perform.
Not only they have to be light, strong, and water-repellent, but they also need to be rigid, UV resistant, permeable, durable, elastic, and airtight, offering a stable and comfortable experience to the rider.