New Zealand-designed marine ply product Goldcore - an ultra-light plywood that its manufacturers claim can offer a 38 per cent weight saving over other plywoods – has now been certified to Lloyd’s-approved standard BS 1088, making it the first product of its kind to be type approved. It means that yards, designers and naval architects can employ the plywood – which weighs 400kg/m3 – in yacht projects without having to independently verify the quality and compliance of their plywood supply.

Goldcore came about after Kerry Pearson – CEO of Panel Systems International – recognised the demand for a lighter-weight ply than was available on the market and set about resolving the challenges presented by finding the right wood specie, its availability and its peeling abilities. “There has always been a demand for lightweight boatbuilding materials to meet displacement and design speed parameters, and in recent years this has been met with composites such as carbon and high density foams,” Pearson tells SuperyachtNews. “However, these come at a much greater cost and are not usually necessary in the build of larger displacement vessels. Plywood has long been the material of choice for interior construction, enjoyed for its ease of handling and machining, veneering, its economic cost and proven durability.”

As a significant plywood supplier to the yacht market, Pearson’s determination eventually led him to the Goldcore specie which he found close to his New Zealand operation. “There are a number of lighter-weight plywoods on the market, but none are manufactured to marine specifications nor are as light as Goldcore,” says Pearson. “A full marine plywood is required to be flat and have WPB (water boil proof) glue lines, A-grade veneers and minimal or no veneer core gaps. These attributes give it strength and a degree of durability.”

The development of Golcore took two years after the core specie was recognised as having the necessary attributes to build a plywood that was significantly lighter yet strong enough for the task. “Panel flatness is always an issue when a core has pockets of air that make it lightweight, as peeled veneers are dried at high temperatures and veneers are pressed together at even higher temperatures again making the panel structure want to twist and cup,” Pearson explains. “The Goldcore factory’s experienced engineers overcame this problem to produce a lightweight panel with no tension that sits perfectly on CNC beds. Lloyd’s approval has been completed over the past nine months due to customer request with further testing and analysis.”

Although particularly designed for the superyacht interior market, where it has already been used in many of the world’s most beautiful and larger vessels, Goldcore is also being employed in land-based structures and commercial buildings.