We sought to design a line of attaché cases and bags that would expand to a greater capacity within the parameters of the traditional size group range. A patented elastic panel was developed allowing the attaché case or bag to expand or contract according to its contents. This panel is composed of alternating overlapping strips of synthetic leather and stretchable nylon. Not only does this elastic panel fulfill the functional requirements we sought, but it also provides a distinct identity to the line as well as visually suggesting the contents of the bag.
In order to manufacture these panels cost effectively, a special multiple stitching head machine was developed that would first roll the materials’ edges over and then sew all stitches whether structural or decorative simultaneously. This produces a continuous panel that can be cut to size as needed.
An unexpected benefit to this stitching process is that it greatly reduced the amount of labor involved in the fabrication of each bag leading to a significant reduction over the initial projected unit cost.
The Attaché cases are formed and machined steel and aluminum frame with diecut plastic side panels covered with a synthetic leather and elastic nylon skin. Synthetic leather was used because it does not have a memory of its shape when distorted and also is easier to feed control for the difficult stitching of the elastic panel. Additional components (leather covered handle, side panels) are injection molded in plastic. The bags are constructed the same as the attaché cases, but without the frame.