Suppliers Deliver Advanced Designs, Engineering, and Manufacturing to the Marine Industry

A variety of specialized capabilities, ranging from FEA software to aluminum extrusion, injection molding, and expertise in engineered plastics, are available to marine industry OEMs

FEA Software to Help Students Learn Marine Vehicle Design and Analysis Techniques

Students at the U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis, Maryland) will be learning modern techniques of marine vehicle design and analysis with the help of finite element analysis (FEA) software from Noran Engineering, Inc. (NEi). The Westminster, California company, a developer of engineering analysis and simulation software, recently announced that the U.S. Naval Academy has selected the NEi Nastran Finite Element Analysis software for use in its accredited degree program for the training of officers in naval architecture. The Academy’s curriculum covers many different types of ships, boats, and vehicles that operate on, above, or under water, and involves the analysis and simulation of hull shapes, stability, structure, arrangement, survivability, maneuverability, and seaworthiness.

Noran Engineering’s NEi Nastran offers highly specialized capabilities to Navy contractors, including the ability to simulate the response of ship components to shock loads from mine, torpedo, or missile detonation. The software provides full NAVSEA compliance, full integration of DDAM (the U.S. Navy’s Dynamic Design Analysis Method, DDAM used to validate ship borne shock-sensitive equipment) into the core NEi Nastran solution for high productivity, and security features for the handling of classified data.

Noran Engineering has demonstrated its responsiveness to maritime issues by winning a U.S. Navy-funded Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) project on applying FEA to the handling of components in ship construction. Beyond the U.S. Navy, Noran Engineering’s software extends to the global marine engineering community, covering the full breadth of industry from defense projects and commercial vessels, to luxury pleasure craft and high-profile racing (the America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean racing series).

Custom Side-rail Extrusion Enables Greater Design Flexibility for Aluminum Boat Docks

Fab Masters Company, Inc. (FMC) manufactures the IPM brand of aluminum boat-docks and boardwalks, a product line that includes dock benches and ladders. The IPM products have applications in residential and commercial boat docking, fishing and swimming, and park walkways, and are used by the National Park Systems, institutions and resorts, and marinas. In addition to the IPM dock line, FMC manufactures docks for other OEMs in accordance to their specifications. Processes typically used to manufacture the IPM docks and boardwalks include cutting, machining, punching, and AWS-certified welding, says Ron Troxell, president of the Marcellus, Michigan company.

For the IPM aluminum docks and boardwalks, FMC manufactures a custom aluminum side-rail extrusion that allows for use of a unique connecting system between the sections. This enables the docks to be used for both floating and stationary systems with a uniform look, according to Troxell.

“It also incorporates a slot in the side of the docks for accessories such as rub rail, mooring rings, and dock bumpers, and allows for many design configurations for customer-specific applications,” says Troxell. “The advantages are strength, durability, [freedom from maintenance], light weight, and modular construction (truss-frames). When coupled with our ThruFlow™ decking, you have a product that is safe, attractive, storm-resistant, environmentally friendly, and will serve for many years to come.”

The IPM docks are fitted with ThruFlow interlocking panels, a premium decking system consisting of a fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene panel that combines highly engineered plastic with “state of the art” design. Advantages of the system include color stability, UV resistance, and protection from static electricity. It’s an anti-slip design that allows light and debris to pass through and helps to prevent damage from uplift in hurricanes and storm surges. It also stays cool in the hot summer sun.

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High-performance Plastics Are Precision Molded and Machined for Marine Applications

Craftech Industries, Inc., a job shop specializing in precision machined and molded plastic parts, manufactures a variety of high-performance plastic screws, nuts, washers, spacers, and bolts for applications in the numerous commercial markets. The company’s markets range from the automotive and transportation industries, to the semiconductor, telecommunications, medical, aerospace, electronics, and marine industries, to name a few.

For the boating/marine industry, the company also produces hinges, handles, and a boat key that’s injection molded of glass-filled polypropylene. Craftech designed, built the mold for, and now injection molds the boat key at its Hudson, N.Y., plant. According to Gina Donovan, marketing director, the boat key helps designers and engineers in the boating/marine industry recognize that higher-performing alternatives to Nylon are available for their applications. 

“We offer engineers and designers alternative plastic materials that do not absorb water and moisture,” says Gina Donovan, marketing director. “The boating industry has been using Nylon or Nylon under other trade names as a standard choice. However, Nylon absorbs water and moisture like an ocean sponge, and after many wet/dry cycles, it can develop characteristics similar to dry rot, eventually cracking and failing. Craftech offers thermoplastics that have low absorption or no absorption of moisture, along with other properties that can be stronger than Nylon and microwave clear, or even get stronger when exposed to light.”

In addition to providing mold building, tooling, and injection molding, Craftech utilizes screw machining and CNC machining to manufacture standard and custom parts in-house. The company works with over 200 high-performance engineered plastic materials, including Dow Chemical Isoplast™; GE Lexan®, Noryl®, and Ultem®; Victrex PEEK™; and RADEL® and Torlon®, both from Solvay Advanced Polymers.

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Rugged PTFE Fiber Handles Outdoor Extremes
Brings Strength, Durability to Marine Applications

Marine fabrics for boat covers are among the weather-resistant applications for Solar Thread™, the new brand name for Plastomer Technologies’ PTFE fiber sewing threads. Designed specifically for the industrial outdoor fabric market, Solar Thread is commonly used as sewing thread for marine fabrics because of its durability, strength, and UV resistance. The water-resistant PTFE fiber product reportedly offers less abrasiveness than other materials and is chemically inert. It also offers low flammability, and withstands temperatures from -250°C to 260°C.

Its ability to remain durable in harsh environmental conditions makes Solar thread™ suitable for additional outdoor applications, including awnings, umbrellas, and convertible car tops. Plastomer Technologies manufactures the PTFE fiber product at its Newtown, Pa., facility, offering Solar Thread™ in a wide range of deniers to fit customized needs.

Plastomer Technologies, an EnPro Industries company, is an ISO 9001:2000-certified manufacturer of PTFE and engineered plastic specialty products. The company also provides engineered plastic machining and fabrication services.


Alcoa Defense Awarded Contract for Naval Design Services

Under a contract awarded in November by The Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock Division, Alcoa Defense (now Arconic) will be providing design and engineering services to assist in the development of selected assemblies and components of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and other naval vessels, particularly high-speed craft that navigate shallow waters. The U.S. Congress funded the contract in recognition of the design and engineering services that Alcoa Defense has already provided to the Army and the Air Force under the Army Lightweight Structures Initiative and the Advance Aluminum Aerostructures Initiative.

“This is a great opportunity for us to showcase the significant contributions we can make when involved at the earliest stages of the engineering process,” said Dr. Jimmy Williams Jr., director of research and development, Alcoa Defense. “We will collaborate with a number of leading original equipment manufacturers and use our expertise in maximizing aluminum performance to enhance their designs. This contract may enable a number of breakthroughs in naval technology, such as new marine alloys, fire retardant coatings, or new aluminum joining techniques, which will benefit all future naval vessels.”

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