Ever since the umbrellas first appeared over 3000 years ago, advancements in technology enabled manufacture of more and more sophisticated umbrellas. As time went by, new materials became available, more durable structures, intricate moving parts for opening and closing of canopy and many more new additions that all led to the current state of umbrella industry. Although the original design of ancient roman umbrellas still remains largely unchanged, modern umbrellas are made to be durable, lightweight and more usable in their job of protecting the wearer from rain, snow, wind and sun.
Protection against rain and sun with umbrellas and parasols is today maintained with several models intended for personal mobile use and more robust stationary use (parasols are more often found in this configuration). Umbrella is created by hand assembly of various parts, which in the end form basic model that must be easy to use, light and durable. Basic components of all umbrellas are:
Canopy - Fabric for umbrellas canopy changed dramatically over the ages. Initially popular linen, cotton, leather, taffeta variety of silk was replaced by Gloria (weave of silk and wool, or silk and cotton) and later on rylon and acetate. Modern umbrellas however use microfiber fabrics (nylon taffeta) that are coated with special water repellant finishes. Canopy cannot be created from one piece of cloth, because motion of opening and closing of umbrella demands movement that cannot be performed by single cloth. Machines cut each section of the canopy (usually eight) that can then neatly fold and unfold them when stitched together and attached to the ribs.
Ribs and Stretchers - They hold the canopy fixed to their structure and are responsible for process of opening and closing of canopy. They are usually made from steel or some other metal, and stretcher is most commonly connected to the shaft with plastic connector (runner).
Runner - This very important piece of umbrella is responsible for controlling the opening and closing mechanism of canopy.
Shaft - Most often made from wood, steel of aluminum, and sometimes from fiberglass or other plastic types. Collapsible umbrellas have a moveable shaft that can telescopes into longer or shorter length.