Marine Composite Materials

Composites Useful for the Marine Industry

Mar-Bal’s composite materials are the choice for all types of watercraft and applications across the marine industry. The marine environment exposes all types of watercraft, submersibles, offshore structures, and other marine structural applications to ongoing environmental challenges. The marine sector requires materials that are anti-corrosive and provide maintenance-free performance for extended periods of time. In addition, watercraft require the lightweight, non-corrosive properties of composites to accommodate design requirements and perform with speed and unfailing reliability.

First used following World War II, marine composite materials have been extensively incorporated in this wide-ranging industry. The early use of composites in maritime crafts was driven by the need for lightweight, strong, corrosion-resistant, and durable components on naval boats. Early applications were designed to overcome corrosion problems experienced with steel, aluminum, and wood. Weight reduction was, and remains, a key consideration, particularly for topside weight found in commercial vessels.

Over the years, thermoset composites were developed to meet the changing demands of marine applications while still being applicable to the more traditional applications including gratings, ducts, shafts, piping, and hull shells. Today, thermoset composites serve all areas of the marine sector. For almost 50 years, Mar-Bal has partnered with the marine industry to engineer thermoset composites that marine environments demand.

Marine Applications

The marine industry encompasses vessels of all types. It also includes valves and other subsea structures which require materials that can withstand the marine environment. Specific properties make Mar-Bal’s composite materials the perfect choice for this challenging environment. Within this sector, applications for marine composite materials include:

  • Hulls
  • Bearings
  • Propellers
  • Hatch covers
  • Exhausts
  • Topside structures
  • Radomes
  • Sonar domes
  • Railings

In recent years, racing powerboats are now increasingly made of composites for long-lasting high performance and safety.

Peak Performance in Marine Environments

Water is corrosive and sea water is especially damaging to watercraft and structures. These challenges present an opportunity for composites to resist corrosion and fatigue in marine components. Maintenance requirements can be significantly reduced with the use of thermoset composites in components, particularly in fixings and connector components exposed to seawater.

Marine components utilizing thermoset composites offer:

  • Strength-to-weight characteristics (tensile strength) for lighter-weight durability
  • Dimensional stability for lasting performance
  • Corrosion resistance for deterioration-free operation
  • Lighter weight to reduce operating costs and improve efficiency
  • Combination of multiple parts into one part for less maintenance
  • Sound baffling for a less noisy operating environment
  • Design flexibility for use in complex shapes
  • High levels of acoustic transparency for radomes and sonar domes
  • Enhanced stiffness for stability

Mar-Bal continually engineers innovative composite solutions to customize and produce the optimum thermoset components for marine products.

Aging Fleets Need Materials that Last

According to The Maritime Executive, in 2017 the average age of a commercial maritime vessel was 20.6 years. Slightly older than in years past, the length of service demonstrates the need for materials that withstand environmental conditions for decades. Even with an aging fleet, maintenance is less than would be expected with the use of other corrosive materials.

Evolving Solutions

Materials science and composite technology are advancing rapidly, and new formulations will address the ever-growing concern for high performance. Lightness, ease of production, durability, and strength enable composites to play an ongoing and vital role in marine applications. As the marine sector continues to look at improving efficiency and reducing overall costs, composite materials will continue to be an important factor in marine performance.

Mar-Bal’s commitment to the advancement of thermoset components will meet the changing demands of the marine sector now and in the future. When you work with Mar-Bal, you get composites engineered and molded to your specific application.