Variable Temperature Moulding (VTM) carbon epoxy prepregs from Advanced Composites Group Ltd (ACG), part of the Composites Division of Umeco plc, have helped British marine glazing manufacturer Trend Marine Products Ltd of Catfield, Norfolk, UK, develop a line of rigid, lightweight, aesthetically pleasing sliding carbon fibre/toughened glass sunroofs that have opened up new design possibilities for a growing number of production boat builders. Using ACG's prepregs and its composites manufacturing expertise, Trend Marine has attained the enviable reputation of being the premier designer and manufacturer of sliding carbon roof for the boat building industry and now supplies the largest OEM manufacturer in the world.
The recently launched Predator 54 and 60 yachts built by Sunseeker International Ltd, based in Poole, UK, have benefited from the application of Trend Marine's expertise and ACG's advanced prepreg materials. Working to a stringent design specification, Trend Marine build and delivered a composite sliding roof system that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing, meeting every requirement laid down by Sunseeker.
The roof panel, as with any structure positioned high on the boat, is weight critical. The weight has a direct bearing on the stability of the craft and also the mechanisms which operate the roof. Equally, the roof structure must be stiff. Its sleek, slender skeletal frame must span a 3m aperture while also supporting the plate glass glazing, and prevent flexure, which could jam the mechanism or cause vibration at the near 50knot speeds that the Sunseeker yachts can achieve.
ACG's vacuum only processing VTM260 Series prepregs have proved highly effective, combining structural efficiency and low cost processing. ACG's VTF261 cosmetic surface ply creates the desired aesthetic "carbon" surface finish, resulting in a solution that is in harmony with the light, airy ambience of the exquisite cockpit.
With the success and consistency of the carbon roof panels on the Predator range, Sunseeker are considering employing the concept on other models.
At the METS 2009 marine show, which takes place between the 17th and 19th November, ACG will exhibit its VTM260 prepregs - "the prepreg system of choice in the marine industry" - on Stand No.: 01.609 while Trend Marine Products Ltd will exhibit a finished roof on Stand No.: 11.321.