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?Question for BOATBUILDERS - Pending Enviro Regulations?

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Old 11-12-2002, 04:18 PM
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Question ?Question for BOATBUILDERS - Pending Enviro Regulations?

Looking for some serious feedback from those directly involved in boatbuilding in one way or another. Simple curiosity got the best of me as I was reading my latest Boat-U.S. magazine.

I know that our boats and our boating lifestyle only make up a small portion of the total number of boats out there on US waterways, but it seems like the way our boats are built employ, by far, the most cutting-edge, state-of-the-art processes, materials and laminating schedules on the market.

There was an article in the Boat-U.S. issue which caught my eye. It dealt with composites manufacturing processes and volitile emissions. Styrene emmissions was the leading topic of discussion and I understand it is a predominent by-product of fiberglass resin systems curing.

Genmar is leading the way in a new technology dubbed VEC or Virtually Engineered Composites. Basically, it employs a male and female contour matched mold, within which laminating woven fabrics are layed up, sandwiched between the two molds and resin is subsequently injected. Meanwhile, vaccum is drawn on the entire curing assembly to remove and process volitile outgassing emmissions.

This is by no means revolutionary as the aerospace industry has been doing this for 50 years and some examples are RTM(Resin Transfer Molding) and VARTM(Vaccum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding) composites. We do structures like this here at work on a regular basis.

However, this is totally new to boatbuilding(from what they say).
[Is it?]

The problem is that Genmar is trying to patent the technology, which is BS in my opinion, but at the same time they are fiercely lobbying the government to implement these new methods and similar emmisions standards in upcoming leglislation.

THIS IS TO BE EFFECTIVE AS SOON AS 2004, and of course the enviro groups are all over this. It's getting a lot of attention.

My question is, how would this effect a low-volume boatbuilder and how might this effect the performance of the processes and materials currently used?? Is this even a consideration for the modern day, low-volume high-performance boatbuilder?

Just Pondering.
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Old 11-12-2002, 04:37 PM
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In my opinion, a low-volume builder would never be able to afford the elaborate "closed mold" system that Genmar is using (VEC).

pic:


The Shape of Things To Come


However, custom race boat builders have been using the vaccum-bag technique in many forms of racing for many years. Albeit some systems are crude -- they still get the job done.

But this type of vaccum bagging is not to trap VOC emissions, it is used to squeeze the resin so that it penetrates the cloth evenly. The excess juice then is sucked out, creating a much lighter lay-up.

Since the early 1990's, resin manufacturers have been formulating low VOC resins and solvents to reduce styrene emissions. I believe that in California, the law is that large builders are fobidden to use anything BUT these low-styrene products at this time.

Here's one example:

http://www.interplastic.com/html/news_firstmvr.htm

Industry's First Tough, Low VOC, Modified Vinyl Ester Hits the Market

Interplastic Corporation is pleased to announce the availability of the industry's first tough, low VOC, modified vinyl ester resin (MVR). The CoREZYN® VEX201-307 resin is designed for marine, tooling and general composite applications. It features excellent physical characteristics, surface quality and blister resistance.

"For those manufacturers faced with choosing a low-styrene product, this resin will give them the toughness and strength of traditional vinyl esters plus compliance with EPA regulations," says David Herzog, technical director, Interplastic Corporation CoREZYN Division. The product's styrene/VOC level is below 35% which also is below the projected EPA requirements.
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Old 11-12-2002, 04:44 PM
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Thanks BK!
Good info. I am very familiar with vaccum bagging and most methods of composites manufacture, but in terms of boatbuilding, like you mentioned, still doesn't do much for emmissions. These materials you indicated are available, however the cost difference is pretty significant.
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Old 11-12-2002, 04:51 PM
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In that article above, it says that Genmar claims they can build a hull in just 35 minutes,....compared to 8 hours if done by conventional methods.

During the "beta” testing phase, the VEC plant produced 1,000 boats, with a variance in weight of 16 ounces - virtually identical. Each hull and deck section is trimmed by a robotic router/driller to a tolerance of 1/1000th of an inch. This assures the accuracy of installation of virtually every component.



Then it goes on to say:

The new VEC technology will be integrated into additional sites within the Genmar empire, beginning with the Wellcraft plant in Florida in 2001. VEC will be utilized for the manufacture of high volume models, where uniformity of production is essential to manufacturing efficiency. It is unlikely that the process will be used for major components of larger offshore boats, due to the low production runs.
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Old 11-12-2002, 04:52 PM
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PS....

Here may be another the reason Genmar is trying to patent the process:

"It is quite likely that VEC components will ultimately be found within the automotive, residential and industrial appliance, and RV industries... all stemming from the landmark developments boaters can now enjoy in Glastron and Larson boats."
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