Five eye-catching composite applications that grab the attention of both industry professionals and the general public.
Lots of composite applications are the workhorses of the industry, remaining largely unheralded: corrosion-resistant pipes that are buried underground, lightweight components under the hood of an automobile, FRP rebar hidden inside concrete. But sometimes composites take center stage, turning the heads of those who pass by and eliciting a whispered, “Wow!” Here are five such applications, from an over-the-top yacht to a wind blade the size of a football field.
The Marriage of Marine and Auto
Application: The Arrow460-Granturismo yacht
Contributors: Silver Arrows Marine and Mercedes-Benz
“Wow” Factor: The sleek 46-foot-long yacht, made almost entirely of composites, is reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow race car introduced in 1934.
The marine and automotive industries have long been leaders in the composites industry, so it’s no surprise that when the two collaborate the end result is breathtaking. In 2012, boat builder Silver Arrows Marine partnered with Mercedes-Benz Style, the automaker’s design brand, to create a luxury yacht nicknamed the “Silver Arrow of the Seas.” The first pre-production yacht – aptly named “Mercedes” – was unveiled in April 2016 on the French Riviera.
The two companies spent two years on research and development, then testing. The pre-production yacht was built in 2014 and 2015. Upon its launch, Silver Arrows Marine Chairman Rob Gibbs said in a press release that the 10-passenger Arrow460-Granturismo “combines the best marine engineering with the inspired innovations and elegance that the world associates with Mercedes-Benz.” Some of its features include an open-plan cabin area, side windows that withdraw into the body, a retractable sunbathing platform in the stern, an interior coated in eucalyptus wood, two 480-horsepower diesel engines and an electronic system operated via touch panels and tablet computers.
The yacht’s structure is made completely of composites, including the hull, sides, deck and bulkheads. Several other components on board are also constructed of composites, including equipment supports, casings, the entrance door, hatch covers and exterior seats. A spokesperson at Silver Arrows Marine says strength, light weight and an exceptional finish were the company’s construction priorities, so the boat builder relied on a selection of materials from supplier Gurit AG.
The main material used was Gurit’s single-sided SPRINT® ST 94, consisting of a layer of dry reinforcement (both carbon fiber and glass fiber) plied to a precast, precatalyzed epoxy resin film. “It is known not only for its extremely good balance of mechanical properties, but also its impact performance and resistance to resin microcracking,” says the spokesperson for Silver Arrows Marine. He adds that the material is specially developed for use in large marine structures where materials need to remain intact in the mold during long build times. In addition, the yacht incorporates SparPreg™ unidirectional epoxy prepreg and Gurit® Corecell™ M foams in various densities, including M80, M100 and M200.