With a wide range of materials available for the construction of a vessel, the focus for the Next Generation Projects session at the Global Superyacht Forum was on the use of composites. The panel discussed the various benefits of the material, citing highly successful projects where it has been used in the construction of intricate or fundamental components, such as the rigging on The Maltese Falcon, as well as the issues related to classification.
"I've been convinced about composite for a very long time," explained designer Martin Francis who highlighted the early projects designed by Jon Bannenberg and delivered by Oceanfast, which all had composite superstructures. "I tried to carry out a yacht project more recently [using composite], and with the rules and regulations, by the time you put the fire protection on, you might as well have made it out of steel. The biggest problem is fire protection and Class and getting through those hoops."
It is a point the panel recognised, highlighting the importance of talking to classification societies. Clive Johnson from Magma Structures went on to explain how his team have spent six years educating the oil and gas sector on how steel is not the right material to be used in certain structures. Education is crucial to better understanding of the abilities and restrictions of composites and it was widely agreed that a lack of knowledge in certain sectors, particularly regulatory, of the market is hindering potential projects.
"Without wishing to criticise the Class societies, there are fewer and fewer surveyors who properly understand composite materials," said Simon Walley from Magma Structures. "Whereas 20 years ago, Class societies were smaller and there was a larger proportion of the surveyors who had good working knowledge of composites."
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