Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Carbon fibres find application in boat construction

One important feature of any sailing ship is the strength and performance of the spars upon which its sails are hoisted. Combining wood with carbon fibres now provides an alternative technology with improved performance values.
Carbon fibres find application in boat construction
Usually spars are attached to a mast to support a sail or a whisker pole for extending the jibe when sailing downwind. Their manufacture is in accordance with strict rules, based both on performance and safety values as well as sporting regulations.

As such, technology has advanced the manufacturing of spars and masts to a fine art, presenting alternative material constructs such as aluminium alloys and carbon. One such technology now marries carbon fibres with wood in such a manner as to provide a greater lifespan and exceptional performance.

Utilising a carbon epoxy prepreg, hardened at more than 90 degrees Celsius, the carbon is compressed into the wooden structure. This provides the spar or mast with greater strength, flexibility and better performance. Customer preference for wood type does not present a problem as the technology can meld the carbon with any type of spar, boom or mainmast.

Additionally, the technology can provide a unique spar adaptable to user requirements; lightness of weight, stiffness and strength. However, because of its unique application, the wood retains its authentic look and appeal but with increased flexibility and strength.

Due to the heat and pressure treatment, excess resin is pressurised out of the laminate and infuses itself into the wooden fibres. This infusion process creates a seamless, 3-dimensional join that proffers a product with improved performance.

The improved performance this technology offers could be reflected in the longer durability of the end products in the long-term. The developers are looking for commercial agreement with technical assistance but will consider any form of collaboration.
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