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Author Topic:   PVC (plastic) space mission patches
vanerie
Member

Posts: 85
From: Outer Banks, North Carolina
Registered: Sep 2016

posted 05-09-2021 06:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for vanerie   Click Here to Email vanerie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I receive a PVC "patch," I'm not interested in keeping it.

When I started collecting patches in the late 60s, patches meant "embroidered."

Editor's note: Post splintered from another thread.

mode1charlie
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Posts: 1395
From: Honolulu, HI
Registered: Sep 2010

posted 05-12-2021 08:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd be interested to know how well PVC patches hold up over time (as in decades or centuries) but aside from that I see no reason why we shouldn't accept new materials for a different era of spaceflight.

SXPatches
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Posts: 171
From: Port Orchard, WA USA
Registered: Jul 2020

posted 05-15-2021 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SXPatches   Click Here to Email SXPatches     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
PVC collectibles don't fit into or display as well in my collection of embroidered patches. I question the longevity of PVC, and I wonder what condition they will be in 50 years from now.

dcfowler1
Member

Posts: 134
From: Eugene, OR
Registered: May 2006

posted 05-16-2021 03:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dcfowler1   Click Here to Email dcfowler1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Space Force is moving to all-PVC patches.

KAPTEC
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Posts: 628
From: Madrid, Spain
Registered: Oct 2005

posted 05-16-2021 07:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KAPTEC   Click Here to Email KAPTEC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, it seems that the end of the collections of authentic and historical patches is near. For the new materials, PVC, or diamonds, that do not count on me.

oly
Member

Posts: 1436
From: Perth, Western Australia
Registered: Apr 2015

posted 05-16-2021 09:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The traditional embroidery patches may be attractive to collectors, but for their primary use are problematic. The designs are difficult to clean and maintain and can collect dirt and other foreign objects.

Where used on flight suits and uniforms there are three basic methods of attaching, sewn directly to the garment, glued using iron-on heat-sensitive glue, or attached using Velcro. The PVC designs are harder wearing and easier to maintain.

Velcro-attached patches regularly become detached when aircrew strap into the cockpit, with the harness straps snagging the patch. Searching the cockpit for stray uniform patches is a common task for flight line maintenance crew, and stray patches are sometimes found in random places. PVC can be bonded to fabric with more robust methods than the iron-on glue used on adhesive sewn patches that never stay attached for long under constant use.

Over the years I have had many embroidery patches replaced on flying clothing because they have worn badly or stained / contaminated making them a FOD hazard.

The solid material retains colour better than screen printed fabric designs, also allows for finer detail rendering so that more elaborate designs can be produced, something that embroidery processes do not cater well toward.

While collectors may not like or appreciate the PVC designs, I doubt the manufacturers of uniform patches give collectors much thought. They would leave that up to the producers of collectible and souvenir manufacturers.

Jim Behling
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Posts: 1761
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 05-17-2021 07:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KAPTEC:
For the new materials, PVC, or diamonds, that do not count on me.
Why? How does the choice of material alter the intent of a patch? It is a medium that allows an emblem to be placed on clothing.

Paul J. Brennan
Member

Posts: 248
From: Linden, CA
Registered: May 2019

posted 05-17-2021 10:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul J. Brennan   Click Here to Email Paul J. Brennan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For all of the reasons that oly indicated, it's a great idea for manufacturers and those applying the PVC patches to the suits. For collectors, it'll be a toss up between those that like it and those that don't for various reasons.

The fact that it moves away from tradition is what annoys people the most and I would be one of them. I get the move to a new technology, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

David C
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Posts: 1386
From: Lausanne
Registered: Apr 2012

posted 05-17-2021 04:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by oly:
Searching the cockpit for stray uniform patches is a common task for flight line maintenance crew, and stray patches are sometimes found in random places.
Well, it sounds like you guys are doing something wrong. I’ve never lost a patch and never heard of any aircraft being grounded for a rogue patch search. As for wear and stains making them a FOD hazard, I don't get that either. PVC harder wearing? Well I think that remains to be seen.

I prefer embroidered, but to me it's about collecting "the real thing." If that's now PVC, well then PVC it is. But I'm not a diehard, collect everything and all the tribute stuff guy — so maybe I just don't appreciate what a disaster this is.

oly
Member

Posts: 1436
From: Perth, Western Australia
Registered: Apr 2015

posted 05-18-2021 01:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe we are doing something wrong. I have a long list of objects that aircrew have lost in the cockpit of aircraft that has caused the aircraft to be removed from service until the item has been found. These include flight suits patches, earplugs, pens, hairbands used to tie female aircrew hair back, the batteries from a flashlight, the broken glass from a wristwatch face, and a fishing lure complete with a treble hook.

Sometimes strange items are found by aircrew during inverted flight. On one occasion an aircrew name patch was discovered by a senior examining flight officer during a flight test when the aircraft was flown inverted. The officer held on to the patch until the aircraft RTB, where he confronted the individual missing the patch.

The person who lost the patch had not flown that aircraft for some time, and the aircraft had flown many sorties in between (a few questions were asked).

SXPatches
Member

Posts: 171
From: Port Orchard, WA USA
Registered: Jul 2020

posted 05-19-2021 01:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SXPatches   Click Here to Email SXPatches     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The medium affects the aesthetic and emotional connection to a design.

Some people prefer to collect decals, pins and/or patches of the same design. I value and appreciate the creative artistic process involved with producing an embroidered patch and the engineering that was applied to make it happen.

PVC patches can be highly detailed and can probably replicate the original graphic art, but they use flat colors, they lack texture and the luster that comes from blending texture and thread color to create an effect. PVC patches seem like a cut decal stuck on a thick rubberized layer.

The medium affects how I connect with it and that is probably why I don't collect decals or patches where the design is just printed on fabric. Having said that, I do own a few PVC patches, but right now, I don't enjoy them as much as embroidered emblems.

oly
Member

Posts: 1436
From: Perth, Western Australia
Registered: Apr 2015

posted 05-19-2021 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To an appreciator of fine art, there is a difference between an oil painting and a fine art print of the same work. While the brush strokes, colour, and shading look the same, the print lacks the texture from brush strokes and knife marks that an oil painting has. Looking at a print of an Alan Bean painting is not the same as the real thing.

However, the texture of an oil painting only works when viewed from the distance the artist planned the image to be viewed from. Too close, the texture overpowers the image, too far away, the texture is lost. The average person who just appreciates the image for its narrative and use of colour, A print works just fine. A patch is not designed to be viewed so close up that individual threads can be identified.

PVC patches can incorporate embossing and the use of a huge range of colours and finishes as well as texture to produce an aesthetic or emotional connection just as an embroidered patch can, perhaps better, because a PVC catch could incorporate the braille alphabet and other textural keys. The use of golds, silvers and other reflective finishes can be used alongside matt or other low reflectivity finishes.

To a collector, I would assume that collecting the same design and material as an original significant patch would be the main concern. As such, If NASA sends a PVC patch to the Moon or Mars, a collector would want the same. I don’t believe that one medium is any better than another, but I can see the artistic potential that PVC patch design brings.

p51
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Posts: 1762
From: Olympia, WA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 05-19-2021 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Once patches on Velcro became common in aviation (and soon afterward, the ground pounders), you'd find them in aircraft all the time. Of all the Army choppers I rode on in active duty (before the Velcro on ground forces patches became a thing other than special operations units), I found 4-5 loose patches just lying on the floors.

PVC is they way things are going now. I'm not sure why as they're not cheap to make and I'm not sure how they wear in the field or in the cockpit (they didn't exist when I was still in the Army) but they're here to stay. I only know I've never seen an embroidered patch wear out rubbing against stuff except if the merrowed edge starts to unravel (I have a Dutch AF F-16 patch I got from the source that I need to figure how to fix as it means a lot to me, for that reason).

These things come in trends, I guess, and PVC is here to stay unless something more popular comes along.

Liembo
Member

Posts: 825
From: Bothell, WA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 05-19-2021 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo   Click Here to Email Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From a production standpoint, PVC has some of the same color limitations as embroidered patches, usually 9-11 colors (more are extra cost, not a hard limit for either). PVC has very fine detail not achievable in thread, but there are some restrictions on how you apply colors, mainly in the way they are often not able to touch. There will usually be a gap between color changes depending on the base color, etc.

When producing an embroidered patch, there's a lot more flexibility in the review process because they can simply alter the embroidery using software and run a new sample. There is no such luxury with PVC because they're cutting metal molds. It's one and done or you incur another mold cutting cost ($75-150 each).

I assume NASA/SpaceX/etc have already done fire/offgas acceptance testing with PVC for use in space, though it seems like the only application so far has been IVA use (NASA meatball and country flags on the SpaceX IVA suits seem to the first application), I do not believe we have seen them for EVA use yet, and I suspect the heat of direct sun exposure in the vacuum of space might exceed PVC's rating.

I really don't have an opinion on one versus the other other than having to refine my own process as an artist to have a PVC patch produced. It's a very meticulous process compared to embroidered patches, a lot more care has to be put into thinking about the design (bevels, angles, curves, and even shadows).

I am far from writing off embroidered patches just yet. I think there is a lot more potential for detail and texture allowed with the combination of embroidery and dye-sublimation printing and potentially combining woven and embroidered (I have only seen one example of the latter, and it's quite impressive).

Kevin T. Randall
Member

Posts: 1471
From: Chesham, Bucks UK
Registered: Dec 2008

posted 12-15-2022 12:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevin T. Randall   Click Here to Email Kevin T. Randall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Today AB Emblem have just released 22 new "Official Space Force" plastic PVC patches, all are on a new dedicated page on their website. All are manufactured at Weaverville N.C. and are to TIOH specs by hallmark A35. They are as follows in the same order as on the AB Emblem website:
  • U.S. Space Service patch (MMXIX) 2019 (4"x 2.25" spear shape) A-19P-0001
  • Space Operations Command (4"x 2.5" spear) A-19P-0003
  • Space Systems Command (4"x 2.5" spear) A-19P-0036
  • Space Training and Readiness Star Command (4"x 2.5" spear) A-19P-0038
  • Space Delta 2 (4"x 3" arrow shape) A-19P-0004
  • Space Delta 3 (III) (4"x 3" arrow) A-19P-0011
  • Space Delta 4 (4"x 3" arrow) A-19P-0009 ***
  • Space Delta 5 (4"x 3" arrow) A-19P-0005
  • Space Delta 6 (4"x 3" arrow) A-19P-0006
  • Space Delta 7 (4"x 3" arrow) A-19P-0007
  • Space Delta 8 (4"x 3" arrow) A-19P-0008
  • Space Delta 9 (IX) (4"x 3" arrow) A-19P-0012
  • 3D Space Experimentation Squadron (4"x 3" oval shape) A-19P-0030 ***
  • 2nd Space Operations Squadron (4"x 3" oval) A-19P-0014
  • 3rd Space Operations Squadron (MMXX) (4"x 3" oval) A-19P-0016 ***
  • 4th Space Operations Squadron (4"x 3" oval) A-19P-0017
  • 21st Space Operations Squadron (XXI) (4"x 3" oval) A-19P-0028
  • 22nd Space Operations Squadron (XXII) (4"x 3" oval) A-19P-0029
  • 23rd Space Operations Squadron (4"x 3" oval) A-19P-0026
  • 2nd Space Warning Squadron (4"x 3" oval) A-19P-0018
  • 6th Space Warning Squadron (4"x 3" oval) A-19P-0020
  • United States flag (1.9" high x 3.25" long rectangle) A-19P-0002
All patches have Velcro hook backings on them, (so no labels are showing).

Update 1st February 2023;
Three of the above patches have Sold Out from the AB Emblem website, marked with ***.

garymilgrom
Member

Posts: 2098
From: Atlanta, GA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 12-15-2022 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think these look great. I'd like to hear from patch designers about the pros/cons of working with this medium.

p51
Member

Posts: 1762
From: Olympia, WA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-15-2022 02:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know if the material keeps it's color over time (I wouldn't be shocked if they fade over time when exposed to light)?

Also, I know similar plastics simply come apart over time (the soles of my old Chlorfam Army dress shoes had simply broken down into a crumbly dust when I found them while cleaning out the close they'd been living in since I left active duty). Could these patches have the same problem? Could they just start splitting or cracking after a few years?

dcfowler1
Member

Posts: 134
From: Eugene, OR
Registered: May 2006

posted 12-15-2022 11:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dcfowler1   Click Here to Email dcfowler1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kevin T. Randall:
AB Emblem have just released 22 new "Official Space Force" plastic PVC patches...
This is a good start, but is probably less than a quarter of USSF PVC patches in use.

benguttery
Member

Posts: 553
From: Fort Worth, TX, USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 12-18-2022 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for benguttery   Click Here to Email benguttery     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A patch is a patch. They've been made in a variety of ways forever. Best news is you don't have to collect what you don't like. Attached is a comparison of embroidered and PVC (sorry, not a space topic), but clearly shows the pluses and minuses.

p51
Member

Posts: 1762
From: Olympia, WA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-22-2022 03:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by benguttery:
A patch is a patch.
I recently talked with a friend who makes stuff out of the same material for other purposes, not for patches, and I showed them a couple of PVC patches I have on my camera bag.

He said, "this stuff breaks down over time, especially when exposed to heat or cold. I have no idea about the colors, but patches like this will started cracking and splitting after a few years," and he went on to say that none of these patches made today will be recognizable as what they currently are in a few decades. He even compared them to the (wool) shoulder patch his grandfather gave him from his WW1 uniform and the (non-merrowed-edge embroidered) patch his dad gave him from his WW2 uniform. "Those are patches," he replied.

He even talked his kid (a USAF loadmaster) out of making any "morale" patches out of PVC for that reason.

So in other words, if you don't care about the long term, feel free.

Liembo
Member

Posts: 825
From: Bothell, WA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 12-22-2022 04:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo   Click Here to Email Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The only issue I've had with PVC so far is a failure of the adhesive used to adhere it to the velcro fabric. It never hardened and oozed out this extremely sticky, and difficult to remove goo, which, had it not still been in its poly sleeve, would have ruined any adjacent patches.

oly
Member

Posts: 1436
From: Perth, Western Australia
Registered: Apr 2015

posted 12-26-2022 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In this day and age where many of the logos and emblems belong to a corporate brand, the colors and shapes are controlled by the brand style guide and can only be reproduced if they match this style. PVC patches reproduce this style more accurately and allow for finer detail where the typeface is a part of the brand and color matching is more accurate.

SXPatches
Member

Posts: 171
From: Port Orchard, WA USA
Registered: Jul 2020

posted 12-29-2022 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SXPatches   Click Here to Email SXPatches     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am very skeptical that PVC patches (wearable emblems) will last as long as embroidered patches. I have seen patches produced using a sublimation print process and wonder if they would last longer than PVC.

As a collector, I have several PVC patches in my collection, but I do not admire them in the same way as embroidered patches, so I have stopped collecting them. I have a jump suit with lots of embroidered patches sewn on it, and I am comfortable wearing it. The thought of wearing heavier and less flexible PVC patches is not appealing since I have to factor in using Velcro to attach them, adding even more weight.

Yep, it's a personal preference, and I guess we'll have to wait for the 50th anniversary of a crewed SpaceX mission to judge their longevity.

dcfowler1
Member

Posts: 134
From: Eugene, OR
Registered: May 2006

posted 12-30-2022 02:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dcfowler1   Click Here to Email dcfowler1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I rather enjoy the Space Force PVC patches. The PVC allows the designs to really "pop."

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