I'm several months late to this party: the Financial Times caught this one back in February. Peter Jackson needed a lightweight version of chainmail for his actors and extras. His art director, Kayne Horsham, came up with a new silver-coated plastic mesh. And now it's Kaynemaile, available commercially for myriad purposes.
Though fragile and time-consuming to make (by hand), it was lightweight and gave a realistic glint. Mr Jackson opted to use it, though actors had to carry glue and tape for repairs between shots.When it's used on the outside of buildings as shades or screens, they call it "Building Armour".
After Lord of the Rings, Mr Horsham experimented with the mail as fashion apparel but he was unable to manufacture in bulk, and the weak joins on each ring were a problem. “I realised that if you could mould the mesh, making it stronger, then it would open it up to all sorts of applications,” Mr Horsham says.
Using free internet software he modelled a way of injection moulding the plastic directly into a strong, seamless mesh. “Each one of those links takes the weight of a single person,” says Mr Horsham, who realised that this strength, combined with its eye-catching reflections, made Kaynemaile better-suited for architectural design and security features.
In 2007, after investment from local angel investors Movac, Kaynemaile automated production at its Wellington factory and made its first sale in Shanghai. It now makes curtains, lightshades, security screens and balustrade panels with the patented mesh. Not forgetting his roots, however, Mr Horsham also supplied chain mail to The Hobbit. But New Zealand accounts for only 15 per cent of business. Customers include ANZ Bank, Hard Rock Cafe and Trump Towers.
And Wellington's now using it for outdoor chandeliers.