Going back to the middle of the last century, 1950’s/60’s and 70’s we fitted blinds in windows primarily to reduce Solar heat gain. Technologies were limited and we ‘made do’ with simple materials that were made into blinds like venetian blinds, vertical louvre blinds and very simple roller blinds.

The late 1970’s and certainly the 1980’s brought a different way of thinking. New technologies like computers and screens demanded a more precise and controllable form of light and glare control. The 1970’s brought an energy crisis, that taught us to close the curtains at night to keep heat in.

The Solar shading industry was not ‘deaf or blind’ to these developments and acted upon it.

With other technologies developing as well (think of the first man on the Moon …), new materials became available. The Lunar module that landed on the moon had to be protected from intense solar heat. Remember the gold colour of the module?  This served to reflect the short wave, electromagnetic radiation emitted by the Sun and keep the module cool.

The principle of reflecting high degrees of short-wave (cold energy at this point) was accepted, and the gold foil was both adopted and adapted by a few wise people back on earth. Initially, we saw window films applied to glass, but they were proven to be limited in success and made the room dark.

A Swiss inventor, Kurt Kunz, took the principle of ‘window film’ and set out to improve its performance and usage.

The ‘film’ became a ‘foil’. Multiple layered, with microscopic metal particles, vacuum treated onto the base foil.

With being able to vary the density of the metal particles (be it aluminium, bronze or indeed, gold) various different light transmissions and energy transmissions could be achieved.

Mounting these reflective foils on a purpose made roller system, Kurt Kunz had the world’s first, fully controllable means of preventing a room from overheating and providing correct light levels for computer screen users. An added bonus, was the prevention of heat passing through the window towards the outside during winter. In other words; a highly efficient ‘curtain’.

Mr. Kurt Kunz was awarded the Gold Medal Award at an inventors exhibition in Brussel in the 1970’s.

In 1979, De Leeuw B.V. in the Netherlands were approached by Mr. Kunz with a view to export his product into Benelux countries.

De Leeuw B.V. undertook tests of the material with the TNO Institute in Delft. When the figures came back showing a higher efficiency than the manufacturers’ claims it was an easy decision to make.

By 1982, the ‘market’ was established and new markets were sought.

On January 17th, 1983, the U.K. office was opened in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire by Dick De Leeuw.

The name Reflex-Rol was chosen, as the name says exactly what it does: a reflector on a roll.

Reflex-Rol UK was established and with clients during its first two years like Shell, Laboratory of the Government Chemists, St. Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight and indeed a major Royal household at the end of the Mall in London.

The company’s future looked good.

Having outgrown its premises in Tewkesbury, it relocated to Ryeford, Nr. Ross-on-Wye in 1988 and is to this day still there.

Solar shading (sun blinds) technology is moving continuously, both in the field of sunscreens, actual blind fabrics (and our unique micro-embossed foil) and the delivery systems or hardware.

A good sunblind or sunscreen material will not perform right or look good if the correct roller system is not used.

Quite often, ‘penny-pinching’ means inferior materials are used and more often than not, with disastrous results. “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys” is a phrase that might apply.

Moving forward: during April 1993, De Leeuw Ltd, trading as Reflex-Rol UK, was approached by a French weaver of high quality fibre-glass based sunscreen products.

The French company, Mermet S.A. asked De Leeuw Ltd. to act as their importer/distributor for the U.K. and Ireland for their products. Mermet UK was born! Stocking the full range of Mermet Solar Control and Sunscreening products in their warehouse in Ryeford, De Leeuw Ltd t/a Mermet UK, sells the screens to the U.K. blind makers, digital printing industry, tensile structures industry. The original idea that orders received before 14.00 hrs would be with the customer the next morning still holds true today.

A development during the late 1990’s, within Reflex-Rol UK, research, development and production of a dedicated system for Air Traffic Control Towers saw the company moving into markets far afield.

With installations in Mexico, Vietnam, Mozambique, Moldova, United Arab Emirates and most E.U. countries, the company now has a truly international clientele.

Dealing with the airport industry brought new opportunities and ideas: Safety at Airports.

De Leeuw Ltd. produce specialised shutter systems for check-in areas to prevent individuals from crawling through the openings that are meant for suitcases, so escaping security and becoming airside and a unique sequential transparent shutter system for passenger boarding bridges.

Details of all of the above mentioned systems can be found on this website.

Research and development continues on a daily basis, new horizons, new markets; will you come with us?

Gold Foil Wrapping Around The Lunar Module – The Beginning