Camper & Nicholsons 42 Endeavour Page 3
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SPRINT to the Finish
In a fiberglass hull, it’s the “fiber” that determines strength. A certain amount of resin is necessary to bind the fibers together, but excess resin is just dead weight. Builders strive for maximum fiber-to-resin ratio, which translates into superior strength in proportion to a vessel’s weight.
One of the best ways to control resin content is by using prepreg materials; under controlled conditions, the fabrics used in hull construction are pre-impregnated with just the right amount of epoxy resin and then kept under refrigeration until needed. This results in laminates of exceptionally high quality, but requires highly skilled personnel and very expensive equipment, most notably an autoclave (a pressurized oven, large enough to contain an entire hull) to remove trapped air from the laminate. The process is much more expensive than traditional hand lay-up and is typically used only in the most demanding custom projects.
Developed by SP Systems, Sprint (SP Resin-Infused Technology) offers the benefits of prepreg materials, but in a more cost-effective manner. Sprint utilizes a layer of dry reinforcement fabric on either side of a precast, precatalyzed epoxy resin film, which remains dry and unimpregnated until the curing process. And rather than an autoclave, Sprint requires a simple vacuum-bagging process to remove air from the laminate. Resin is simultaneously drawn into the fibers, resulting in an extremely low void content, thereby increasing strength, reducing the likelihood of fracture, and yielding an almost perfect surface finish. Curing the epoxy at elevated temperatures assures high strength.
While still more expensive than traditional hand lay-up, Sprint offers higher quality and strength with lower weight, along with the promise of increased performance and better value down the line. —George L. Petrie
SP (North America) Phone: (905) 681-8112. www.spsystems.com.
This article originally appeared in the September 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.