Over the years, boat designers and engineers have had to incorporate new developments to build more efficient boats because of the rise in demand for better, safer, and faster travel across the sea. Of all the steps involved in building boats, coming up with a design is the first and most crucial. The most reliable suppliers for boat building materials affirm that you need to consider the materials that work best with your preferred design before you start the process. This article gives you an overview of the materials available for building boats, and with that, you can decide which type of boat to build or purchase, depending on your budget and needs.
Manufacturers have used steel as their material of choice for the past century. Among the attributes that have made steel more popular are the following:
- Steel is durable
- It has high strength
- It is resistant to abrasion
- Steel is affordable
Regarding sustainability, the steel production process is airtight, which lowers construction waste. At the end of its life cycle, steel is completely recyclable, which makes it sustainable.
The importance of steel has reduced due to the introduction of new composite materials in the market. Manufacturers are now using cheaper and better alternatives to make boats of the same size.
Boat manufacturers vastly prefer using aluminum because of its lightweight nature. That is in comparison to steel. The weight of boats made using aluminum makes them seaworthy and more stable. Such ships can travel at a higher speed which amounts to getting better mileage using a similar quantity of fuel from a boat made of steel.
In addition, aluminum is a strong option due to attributes like:
- Chemical and corrosion resistance
- Imperviousness to magnetism
- Easy workability
- Plastic deformation tendencies
On the flip side, making boats with aluminum is costly, and aluminum is susceptible to abrasion due to its soft nature.
Fiber-Reinforced Plastic (FRP)
Fiber -Reinforced plastic is one of the best options available in the market. It has excellent qualities that have dominated the sector for the last few decades. FRP boats are strong, durable, corrosion-free, and watertight.
Initially, manufacturers used Fiber -Reinforced plastic for military boat manufacturing, but it has since entered all levels of maritime application. Due to its efficiency, manufacturers are currently using it instead of steel and wood.
FRP boats are not economically viable. The material used to make the boats may be cheap, but more must be considered. The process of manufacturing these boats demands skilled labor. It is also a requirement that those involved in the boat-making process should be acquainted with the principles of boat-making.
However, manufacturers still prefer Fibre –Reinforced plastic because of its return on investment. The ROI for these boats is far better than the rest because they have a long lifespan.
Another FRP strength is its sustainability. Their composites are 100 percent recyclable. They also do not affect the marine ecosystem. According to boat digest statistics, out of 7 million pleasure boats, 95 percent were manufactured using fiber-reinforced plastic. This adoption rate is high because of how durable and marine-friendly FRP composite material is.
Polyethylene can serve all marine applications, for instance, surveillance, security, and fishing on all levels. That is due to its versatile nature. High-density polyethylene has a high strength-to-density ratio as its top quality.
Other qualities include:
- It is low maintenance
- It has advanced chemical and impact resistance
- Greater buoyancy
In matters of aesthetics, unlike aluminum, which is fabricated, boats made of polyethylene are molded. Molding makes it possible for manufacturers to create complex designs with smaller tolerances for molding parts than the ones used for fitting.
Polyethylene is a good choice due to its sustainability. It is a recyclable material. It also lightweight, which makes it consume less fuel.
However, polyethylene is not structurally stiff like aluminum or fiberglass, which facilitates the production of large boats. Other disadvantages of polyethylene are that it becomes brittle over time and gets destroyed when exposed to high temperatures.
Choosing the best material depends on the application, the size of the boat, and its expected life span. Smaller boats for shallow-sea activities require polyethylene, while boats for coastal patrols, security operations, or rescue require FRP. One of the preferred choices is steel and aluminum for the larger ships used for cargo transportation.
Boat designers need to be keen while choosing the material as it has a direct impact on the performance of the boat as well as its efficiency.