Why we infuse
What makes us different from a lot of other boat builders is the main method in which we construct our boats, this being Infusion.
I could write for hours on what infusion is, suffice to say you are better googling or looking at our videos on our Facebook page to get a clear understanding of exactly the process, this is more about why we use it.
When I first started in the industry building race yachts, what set us apart was our ability to deliver consistent light weight composite structures, this was done thru running fabric though a wet-out machine at various settings, the resin is then impregnated into the fabric onto a roll, weights recorded then handed to the guys hanging off scaffolding or on a vacuum table to roll out over a mold, you generally only had the day to get it down, everyone got covered in resin and spent the day inhaling noxious fumes, they were very long days I can tell you.
With Infusion you have the luxury of placing the fibre and cores down dry then introducing the resin thru pipes into the job at the end, in a very controlled manner.
Everything is still weighed and recorded, you do this more to prove that you have built the part to the specification more than anything, we also take photos, lots of photos.
Consistency is a big thing, Infusion pretty much delivers the same resin to fibre ratio every time and either the part being made is either a success or not, there really is no in-between, this aspect is not for the faint hearted....
Accuracy in fibre placement and patching is vastly superior , you can have "plants" that form door openings or penetrations and flanges because you have the time to do them, you can be very technical in how you fabricate things, this saves a massive amount of time in the assembly phase of building a boat.
You can do both skins and core at the same time saving weight, time and consumables and at the end of the day if you aren't quite done , you go home and start again in the morning without worrying about resin going off.
In my view though, the most important and best attribute of Infusion is from a staff/human perspective, they stay clean, they turn up every day consistently, the factory stays clean, they aren't sucking on fumes that send them on emotional roller coasters both at work and home and you have staff that are older and more experienced who generally leave the industry cause it’s a young man’s game, you just end up with a better team.
Downsides, yep there are a few, your molds need to be good although once you accept this and commit to infusion you learn how to build molds quickly and cheaply.
The big downside is plastic consumables such as bags, tubes and buckets, we spend a lot of time on trying to minimize this and are very conscious of what we are putting in the bin every week, we do look at the big picture, our boats are lighter than production boats, they burn less fuel, require smaller engines to achieve the same speed, they have a longer life and require less maintenance, so although I'm just a simple boat builder, my gut feeling is, in the long run our boats if they are going to be built, probably end up having an overall smaller carbon footprint than most.
Infusion, it’s not a perfect process but I think currently it’s the best cost vs practical way to build boats in this time.