Bayer MaterialScience Develops High Tech Composite Seat Cushions for Luxury Yachts

Without a doubt, the "Kaϊdoz 31" from the French yacht manufacturer Kaϊdoz Plaisance embodies the spirit of its slogan "Vivre La Mer Autrement" ("A different approach to sailing"). In this innovative vessel, the deck, cockpit and cabin extend along one level. If necessary, an ingenious roof structure can be erected to protect the crew against rain, sea spray or the sun. The sporty, elegant design allows owners and guests alike to revel in the ultimate yachting experience.

The yacht’s high-quality, functional interior fittings certainly play a key role in achieving this sense of luxury. It’s hard to beat the pleasure of taking a seat on the deck benches and relaxing on comfortable cushions while enjoying the view. The comfortable feel of the Luhona® cushions is created by filling them with the flexible polyurethane molded foam system Bayfit® from Bayer MaterialScience. The outer layer is made of the high-grip polyurethane spray-on elastomer Baytec® skin to protect the foam core against sunshine and the damaging effects of sea water. Eram Industrie in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, France, manufactures the seat cushions and also specializes in polyurethane anti-slip floorings for ships, private and public buildings, and the transport sector.

The long-life foam/spray-on skin composite for the cushions is produced by first spraying a colorfast in-mold coating and a plasticizer- and filler-free Baytec® elastomer into an open mold using robots. During this operation, the material’s special thixotropic formulation prevents it from running down the upright faces of the mold, and thus also enables the creation of complex geometries. Next, a liquid mixture of polyurethane raw materials is introduced into the mold, where it reacts to produce the high resilient flexible molded foam Bayfit®. Franck Chérel, Managing Director of Eram Industrie, is delighted with the results, saying, "The reaction creates a foam/elastomer composite that protects the foam core against UV radiation, air and moisture and that molds itself to the shape of the sitter."

Thanks to its broad spectrum of properties, Bayfit® offers virtually unlimited design freedom - from very flexible to rigid grades and from elastic to viscoelastic. In terms of functionality, too, the material covers virtually all requirements. In furniture manufacture, for example, anchoring elements or inserts can be fixed directly and permanently to the part during the foaming process. "Therefore, this foam system is the ideal complement to polyurethane slab foam, which is less suitable for many designs because of the additional cutting and gluing required and the high proportion of waste this involves," explains Dr. Frithjof Hannig, a flexible foam expert in the Polyurethanes Business Unit of Bayer MaterialScience AG.

In the past, waterproof shells made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), for example, were applied to the foam post-production to protect it against contact with liquids. However, large quantities of plasticizers have to be added to this shell to allow for the core’s elasticity. "By directly applying a tailor-made Baytec® skin in a single step, it is possible to permanently seal the cushioning without having to cover the foam with the watertight shell in a post-production step. The customer is also spared the problems arising from the gradual embrittlement of the PVC," says Dr. Dirk Wegener, an expert in polyurethane spray systems. The shell can be designed in any color and, if particularly robust zones are required, the thickness of the shell can be varied between around 0.4 and a few millimeters - even within one and the same product.

These two high-tech materials enable customers to benefit from the polyurethane expertise that Bayer MaterialScience has garnered over decades as a supplier to customers in the polyurethane industry. BaySystems®, the umbrella brand for the global polyurethane systems operations of Bayer MaterialScience, is shaped by this expertise and the company’s close cooperation with customers.

Kaïdoz and Eram work hand-in-hand to demonstrate the strengths of their concepts. A Kaϊdoz 31 yacht sponsored by Luhona® will take part in the "Transquadra" Transatlantic regatta, sailing in two legs from St. Nazaire, France, to Madeira and then on to Martinique in the West Indies in August 2008.

Posted March 12th,2008

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