Among the new innovations in a prototype of the Mini 6.50, Arkema 3 includes a new recyclable manufacturing resin to build the boat, a new rig where a soft wing replaces the conventional mainsail and retractable and tilting foils. Arkema 3 is a new contestant to follow closely during the next Classe Mini races.
Let’s focus on the hidden part of this revolutionary boat, its structure. Arkema 3 is made of carbon fiber infused with a new recyclable resin developed by Arkema: Elium.
Lalou Roucayrol, skipper of Arkema Multi 50 and founder of Team Lalou Multi, the boatyard where Arkema 3 was built, said in a press kit :
“The greatest innovation of this Arkema Mini 6.50 is the Elium resin, which represents the future of offshore sailing boat building.”
Solving Thermoplastic Issues
Most thermoplastic products are made with short discontinuous fibers, such as chopped glass fiber, for reinforcement. If they can be considered as fiber-reinforced composites, their strength is not that high and they cannot be used as structural parts.
Secondly, thermoplastic resins are mostly in a solid state at ambient temperature, and in order to impregnate the fibers, the resin must be heated and the pressure raised.
Arkema’s Elium resin is liquid at ambient temperature, which allows resin transfer molding or vacuum infusion, which are now widespread manufacturing techniques for racing boats. It is therefore possible to produce structural parts with this new resin.
Pierre Gerard, composite expert of Arkema GRL, explains in a video (in French):
“The idea was to be able to develop a resin that is liquid at ambient temperature, and so that can be processed like a thermoset resin while retaining this thermoplastic character which is highly desirable for recyclability constraints in particular”
“This is the first time in the world that a component of this size has been produced using a recyclable acrylic resin. It was quite a significant step forward”
This is the first time in the world that a component of this size has been produced using a recyclable acrylic resin.
Reducing the Footprint
According to the necessary modifications, the boat can be reshaped by thermoforming without cutting and making new parts. At the end of its life, the resin and the fabric panels can be reused to build new composites.
This is a major step forward in boat building as boats made of thermoset resins such as vinylester, polyester or epoxy can only be dismantled when their owner definitely separate from them at a recycling deposit, where all composites are destroyed and chopped to finish in an incinerator.
Boatbuilding is now on a more sustainable path.