“Reinforced plastic composites had the best combination of cost, corrosion resistance, fatigue resistance and ruggedness that were required for a long service life in a harsh marine environment,” Wilton says. To fabricate the tanks, AgriMarine partners with Janicki Industries of Sedro-Wooley, Wash., which designs and builds large-scale, high-precision composite tooling and parts.
AgriMarine already had a tank design when it teamed with Janicki to make it manufacturable. Because the tank is 80 feet wide, it’s too large to feasibly ship. “We had to take their conceptual design and break it up into components with flanges to aid assembly,” says Andy Bridge, vice president of industrial sales for Janicki Industries. “The bottom of this thing is like slices of a pie. We had to design these pieces so they could all be easily manufactured and nest into shipping containers to keep transportation costs low.”
Part of the design work involved looking for commonality of shapes. Fewer shapes means that less tooling is involved, which helps lower costs. The completed tank features 48 total sections fabricated with six tools. The pieces are made via vacuum infusion using an epoxy vinyl ester resin specifically selected for its corrosion resistance.