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A French consortium has produced two boats made from Twintex glass-reinforced polypropylene.
The new boats are the result of a technical partnership between 4 French companies over several years: the design agency Fritsch & Associates (Yvelines, France), the manufacturer of boats 2win (Charente Maritime, France), the engineering department Plastic Processing Alternatives – PPA (Galway, Ireland) and the manufacturer of reinforcement for composite materials Saint-Gobain Vetrotex – SGV (Savoie, France).
One of the boats, 2win, was born in 2003 of the recovery from two 30 years old manufacturers of sport catamarans and sailboats (Boats Boutemy and Mystère Catamarans). It was François Lenoir, leader and owner, who, being interested in the recent evolutions of the composites, looked for a new alternative to the existing products on the market. The specifications were not simple because the products for water sport have to answer to many constraints:
– A minimum weight while preserving a rigid structure able to support the strain of use under the worst conditions.
– Water resistance: resistance to salt & to sun exposure. As well as a great impact resistance.
– Lastly, the implementation must be non toxic and the offered products recyclable. This to comply with the company’s ethics and the customers that are environmentally concerned.
The cost is also a key factor being positioned on the mass market of leisure.
The 2win team selects thermoplastic composite TWINTEX because its properties (recyclability, impact resistance and to ageing, lightness, etc.) could suit the required specifications. Then came the assistance of PPA and SGV, the feasibility study of such a project and possibilities of implementation.
The R&D department of SGV, with PPA, studied and determined the manufacturing processes the most adapted to the completion of the first hulls. The selected process is the closed mould. It is a clean process with no styrene emission.
The first prototypes were manufactured at the beginning of 2005. Mechanical tests and the final weights obtained were very satisfying. The next trial conducted on the water confirmed the good performance. The product is of a rigidity equal or higher than polyester for a lesser weight. It has, in particular, a better impact resistance than most of the polyethylene hulls. The industrialization phase and marketing-selling is now ready to start.
The first boats will be presented at the International Nautical Exhibition of Paris, from December 2 to 12, 2005, on the stand of 2win, Hall 1. Saint-Gobain Vetrotex will be on this same booth to present the Twintex product and its benefits for water sport applications.
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