Since 2011, Atech Composites, a member of Horizon Group, has collaborated with the Chung – Shan Institute of Science and Technology ( CSIST ) on a special project that is outside of the normal yacht production realm: the design and manufacturing of aviation parts. This project has presented a variety of challenges for Atech’s R&D team, yet overcoming these challenges have proven evolutionary. It has provided the R&D team with valuable technological knowledge and experiences that they can now try to apply to yacht manufacturing.
One of the tools that Horizon has gained is the use of pre-preg material that can be used to produce the composite components of yachts. “Pre-preg” is a term that means pre-impregnated, referring to the practice of pre-embedding fibers with resin, such as epoxy. Pre-preg already contains an amount of the matrix material of resin and utilizes it to bond together fiber and other components during production of the fiber cloth. Heat usually activates pre-preg. It must be stored in a cool space when not in use, making it necessary to have an oven or heat source to cure the composite structures with pre-preg.
Atech Composite have established two different pre-preg manufacturing processes from the aviation industry: Hot press process and Out of- Autoclave (OOA) process. Hot press process requires a pair of molds – an upper mold and a lower mold that are sprayed with a release agent, covered with pre-preg and release film, and then pressed on a pre-heated hot plate 3-4 times to eliminate any bubbles in the layers. Once the molds are complete, the pre-preg layup is heated and pressed to form the part. The OOA process is a new manufacturing method for aviation part — traditionally the autoclaves used for products with the highest material performance, such as those with void contents less than 2 percent. However, the OOA process provides the same level of material performance as the Autoclave process but instead uses only a vacuum bag for atmospheric pressures. This vacuum bag technology can be used in yacht manufacturing in the future for material saving and quality enhancement.
In addition to new materials and advanced technology, Horizon Group has also adopted inspection tools that are commonly used in aviation, such as the NOT (nondestructive technology). When utilizing pre-preg materials and advanced technology to build lighter, stronger and more accurate FRP products, Horizon can now employ NOT to ensure the quality of the standardized composite components during inspections.
Recently, Atech put their aviation knowledge and experience to the test in creating a hard top for the Horizon E88 model The standard size of an E88 hard top is 7.23 meters by 4.72 meters with a surface area of 46.8 square meters. The hard top is usually constructed with glass fiber and unsaturated polyester. However, Atech employed the new pre-preg material and advanced manufacturing process for this particular E88 hard top and reduced the weight of the piece by 50 percent. This is a significant endeavor, as lighter superstructures are often preferred in the industry and can result in better stability for the yacht.
Horizon’s newest venture to applying aviation technology to yacht manufacturing is a successful experiment and will be an important step forward in the industry, and Horizon will continue to improve upon and advance our build technology and processes in order to provide the highest quality Horizon yachts to our clients.
You must be logged in to post a comment.