JEC Group have brought together the international community of composites leaders and executives in our Composites Circle as an unique networking opportunity to meet with both peers and future partners.
For more than 30 years, Catamaran Cruisers has been making houseboats that are highly affordable, durable, stable, manoeuvrable and fuel efficient. Now, Catamaran Cruisers is the first company in the marine sector to adopt AOC’s new styrene-free technology that is better for the environment and the workplace.
STEVE MARTIN DIRECTOR OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS, AOC(Published on August-September 2010 - JEC Magazine #59)
Catamaran Cruisers uses the hand lay-up and spray-up processes to manufacture cabins, hulls, bulkheads, galley sinks, slides, gates, rails and other features made of fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite. Typical composite boat construction uses a resin that is formulated to incorporate styrene. However, Catamaran Cruisers is now using the new EcoTek H164 polyester resin, putting the company one “green” step ahead of the pack.
In a composite resin formulation, styrene serves as a diluent for wetting out reinforcing fibres and as a reactive monomer that helps transform the resin into a molecularly-crosslinked polymer. EcoTek H164 polyester has an innovative, AOC-patented formulation that replaces styrene with diluent monomers ensuring lower volatility and fewer emissions. EcoTek green technologies include products made with renewable content and/or styrene-free chemistry.
A primary reason for switching to the green resin is to create a healthier and safer work environment for employees. Workplace exposure to volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions is significantly reduced. Reduced emissions are also better for the environment and make the product more attractive to customers looking to make greener buying decisions.
Unlike styrene, alternative monomers in the EcoTek resin are not regulated as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The company’s emissions are now only about 15% of what they are allowed for their operation. They are staying ahead of the game to bring their emissions down even more.
The spacious houseboat cabins are built on double catamaran hulls that feature individual composite bulkheads every 90 cm and a hard chine for a smoother houseboat ride.
The new styrenefree resin also helps Catamaran Cruisers make a more state-ofthe- art boat. This is because the resin works well in a proprietary manufacturing process that is engineered for a lighter, more durable composite laminate.
Reducing the use of heavy wood in major areas results in weight savings of up to 30%. The company’s new construction techniques have increased insulation properties and fuel efficiency. One customer claimed up to 50% fuel savings with the lighter construction.
The new green resin for lamination is part of a material system that Catamaran Cruisers uses to make superior marine composites. Composite construction starts with a Vibrin® gelcoat designed specifically for marine applications. For maximum resistance to surface blistering, the gelcoat is backed up with a barrier coat manufactured with a high-performance Hydropel® vinyl ester resin.