Departing from the norm, with an eye at arriving well ahead of the trend, TUMI, a world renowned producer of high-end travel, business and lifestyle accessories, has joined forces with Carbitex to create a revolutionary new line of everyday items that incorporates carbon fiber in a brand new way.
Briefcases. Duffle bags. Wallets. Carry-ons. Tablet and passport protectors. When most of us imagine items involving carbon fiber, we often envision cars and airplanes, even the occasional kayak, not the everyday objects found in the CFX collection.
So how did TUMI take a material known for its strength and rigidity and turn it into something that could be used on luxury travel items? Innovation, that’s how. And with a little help from their friends.
In fact, the initial spark was created by Carbitex, an American-born carbon fiber innovator and manufacturer. “We contacted TUMI because of their unwavering dedication to material and design innovation,” says Junus Khan, founder and CEO of Carbitex in an exclusive interview with Carbon Fiber Gear.
What they had to offer was something as-of-yet unseen in the world of composites.
Keen to the idea that many companies were copying the characteristics of carbon fiber, without actually using it — by embossing materials like leather and vinyl — Junus Khan and his colleagues set out to create a new kind of carbon fiber, one that could be modified to have the strength of spring-steel or the flexibility of a true fabric.
What they ended up with became the core of the company itself, and just what was needed to craft TUMI’s innovative new collection.
Poaching from the periodic table — C is for carbon, 6 is for the atomic number, X is for that “X-factor” — CX6™ was processed and tested at the U.S. Department of Energy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and not without trial and error. “The process of creating CX6™ was akin to the stereotypical inventive story,” Junus explains.
“Learning through failure while being motivated by deterministic curiosity.”
It came alive in 2012 and, not long after, high profile enterprises started showing interest. That’s when Carbitex’s relationship with the world-renowned travel and apparel provider began.
After working through Carbitex’s seven step production process — which includes collaboration, sample studies, iterations and performance testing — TUMI was able to attain just the mix of materials and techniques required to create a luxury line of products and accessories that wholly adhered to their well-known regard for material innovation.
One such undertaking, something both TUMI and Carbitex have called “the wet infusion process” — a mysterious procedure that neither company would further elucidate on — is what ultimately transformed CX6™ into the fabric-like material that would allow for a carbon fiber-infused product to be both durable and dynamic at the same time.
“‘Wet infusion’ is superior because it enables an unprecedented level of control over the characteristics of the carbon fiber composite,” Junus reveals, saying little else about how it’s achieved. TUMI also claims that it’s how the CFX collection acquired its “high strength, low stretch and lightweight performance properties.”
The ingredients and methods used in the secret recipe of CX6’s™ many iterations might remain a mystery for some time. Regardless, TUMI and Carbitex have combined minds to come up with a series of luxury products and accessories that are sure to turn an industry on its head and force others to think outside the box — or the carry-on — in order to keep up.
Here at Carbon Fiber Gear, we’re just excited that we get show off our carbon fiber billfolds anytime we check out at the grocery store.
For more info on the CFX collection, you can simply visit our store.
Also, we’d be remiss if we didn’t add an exclusive link to Carbitex, as a small thank you to Junus Khan for answering our questions.