Grommets are hole reinforcements that are made of rubber, metal or plastic rings. Grommets act as a support for the hole's shape, and as a barrier between the material of the hole--especially sharp metal--and what must pass through the hole. For more delicate materials, grommets increase the life of the hole's integrity preventing tears or rips in the fabric.
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Fabrics and Leather
Grommets are usefully applied to different types of fabrics. They are used in footwear, where they form a barrier between the shoe material and its laces. They are used in fashion design of clothing and bags, as maybe a part of a belt buckle, a stylish design or even a loop for a handle.
Grommets are used in upholstery design and drapery. Large metal grommets are typically used through the tops of drapes, evenly spaced, so that a curtain rod can pass through them. This is a popular decorating design--grommet-accented drapes. Grommets may be used in eclectic furniture designs, as style accents or even functional purposes. Grommets come in different metal finishes to compliment design planning, such as pewter, copper, brass, brushed metal and even painted colors.
There are two applications of fabric grommets--the classic grommet and the self-piercing grommet. To apply a grommet, a hole is first punched through the material, then the grommet fasteners are attached using a grommet tool. Self-piercing grommets remove the need to pre-punch the holes, as this is done in one step--the hole is punched and the grommet is attached.
Office and Equipment
Grommets are also used for office, electrical and medical equipment. Grommets are used as barriers to protect wires as they pass through desks, cabinets and metal hardware. Constant pulling or tugging can cause the wire coatings to wear away and become damaged beyond use. Grommets help prevent this wear and tear, and they also help to organize the wires that are passed through them. Generally, these grommets are either rubber or plastic to prevent electric shock from metal-to-metal contact.
Grommets have also found their way into health care, particularly for ear problems, such as otitis media or glue ear. Grommets have been surgically inserted into the ear, to physically correct middle-ear fluid accumulation, which is known to lead to deafness in young children. In the case of glue ear or otitis media, the Eustachian tube is compromised, and the grommet acts to hold up the integrity of the tube's shape. This then allows for proper fluid drainage and air passage into the middle ear.