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Catamaran Cruisers is the first in the marine sector to adopt AOC’s new Eco-Tek styrene-free technology to improve the environment and the workplace.
Catamaran Cruisers uses the hand lay-up and spray-up processes to manufacture cabins, hulls, bulkheads, galley sinks, slides, gates, rails and other features of fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite. Typical composite boat construction uses a resin that is formulated to incorporate styrene. However, the new EcoTek H164 polyester resin that Catamaran Cruisers now uses shows how the company strives to be far better than typical.
In a composite resin formulation, styrene serves as a diluent for wetting out reinforcing fibres and as a reactive monomer that helps transform the resin into a molecularly-crosslinked polymer. EcoTek H164 polyester has a patented formulation that replaces styrene with diluent monomers with lower volatility and fewer emissions.
“A primary reason for switching to the EcoTek resin is to create a healthier and safer work environment for our employees,” said company President Dirk Wiley. “Workplace exposure to volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions is significantly reduced. Reduced emissions are also better for the Environment and make our product more attractive to customers looking to make greener buying decisions.”
Unlike styrene, alternative monomers in the EcoTek resin are not regulated as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Our emissions into the air are only about fifteen percent of what we are allowed for our operation,” said Wiley. “We are staying ahead of the game with help from AOC who is working with us to bring our emissions down even more.”
Wiley said EcoTek H164 resin also helps Catamaran Cruisers make a more state-of-the-art boat. That’s because the resin works well in a proprietary manufacturing process that is engineered for a lighter more durable composite laminate. Reduction in the use of heavy wood in major areas results in weight savings of up to 30 percent. Catamaran Cruisers’ new construction techniques have increased insulation properties and fuel efficiency. One customer claimed up to a 50 percent fuel savings with the lighter construction.
The new EcoTek green resin for lamination is part of an AOC material system that Catamaran Cruisers uses to make marine composites. Composite construction starts with a Vibrin gel coat designed by AOC specifically for marine applications. For maximum resistance to surface blistering, the gel coat is backed up with a barrier coat manufactured with a high performance Hydropel vinyl ester resin from AOC.
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