High Tech & Space Age Materials in Boat Building
The boat building industry has entered an unprecedented period of experimentation of new materials for use in the fabrication of what were once called fiberglass hulls. Those of us who have been around the boat building scene for a while have seen a lot o f new ideas and materials. Increasingly, we find a new term being introduced to define what we once called a plain fiberglass hull, “composites.” Composite merely means the combination of two or more materials to make a whole. Fiberglass, a combination of plastic resin and glass fibers, is a composite. But, in the marine industry, composite increasingly comes to mean the use of a third material, a core material such as balsa or foam.
Boat buyers should be aware of several important points when considering the purchase of a new boat. The first is that new resins, reinforcements and core materials are being developed at an unprecedented rate. Industry magazines and trade shows are promo ting a dizzying array of new materials. Foams laced with plastic and aluminum honeycombs, new arrangements of glass fiber reinforcements in an apparently endless array of new weaves and fiber configurations, plus a wide array of new plastic resins and c hemical additives, are being widely promoted.