If you’re over the age of 30, the advances in technology for a host of things has been astounding.

When we were kids, we still had to find a land line to make a phone call. Some of us even remember having to use a rotary dial phone. Today, telephones are pretty much like mini-computers and allow you to do so much more than just talk.

Amazingly, fishing coolers have also undergone incredible advancements.

In the past, basic Styrofoam or plastic/foam coolers were the best you could do. While they would suffice in most circumstances, they weren’t exactly the best for long-term storage. On a hot day, the ice could melt over the course of day, requiring you to refill it daily.

What makes today’s high-end fishing coolers so much more durable?

To answer this question, we need to explore the material used to manufacture high-end fishing coolers along with the methods for molding them into something we can use aboard our boats.

High-end fishing coolers from Eddy-Gear and other manufacturers are made from polyurethane insulation

Polyurethane, or PU, is an organic polymer that is formed by mixing a polyol blend with an isocyanate like methylene diphenyl diisocyanate. When these items are mixed together, a rigid foam matrix that’s lightweight with excellent insulation is formed

This material is used in a wide variety of application and can be found in the following items:

  • Mattresses
  • Adhesives and sealants
  • Building insulation
  • Refrigerated vehicles
  • Chiller cabinets
  • Refrigerators

PU insulation for buildings is more advanced than options in earlier times. They not only help make buildings more comfortable, they help fulfill more advanced building codes and help owners achieve green certification for their buildings.

PU insulation also plays a vital role in keeping food(s) fresh throughout the entire supply chain process (i.e. from harvest to the grocer).

Since polyurethane insulation provided an efficient way to preserve food, inventors wanted to find a way to use this material for fishing coolers. Since these coolers are usually far away from any sources of ice, having a box that could keep ice for longer became a top concern for anglers.

Before PU insulation becomes a fishing cooler, it goes through a manufacturing process called rotational molding

It would be nice if you could mix together the polyol blend with an isocyanate and have your cooler, but after you have the material, it needs to be molded.

This is where “rotational molding” comes into play, which is a method that has quickly become the most popular way for molding plastics. The method, first developed in the early 20th century, is used to manufacture a wide variety of products, including:

  • Trash cans
  • Storage tanks from as small as 5 gallons to as large as 22,000 gallons
  • Playground equipment
  • Sporting items (i.e. golf carts, helmets, dumbbells and more)
  • Car parts
  • Baby cribs
  • Immobilizer boards used by paramedics and hospitals
  • Mannequins in department stores
  • …and much more

What happens is a plastic material in a mold is rotated in two planes that are perpendicular to each other.  The particles on the inner surfaces melt and mold with each other until the manufacturer has the thickness they’re looking for.

Unlike prior plastic molding methods like blow and injection, rotational molding produces zero waste. Instead of molten plastic being injected into a mold, the resin is already in the mold and is simply melted to the desired thickness. This thickness is determined by the amount of powder the manufacturer puts into the mold at the beginning. If they want a thicker item, simply add more powder.

Since the pieces are produced without any external pressure, they are stress-free with the exception of some slight shrinkage that may occur during the molding process.

Other advantages of rotational molding include being able to maintain a uniform thickness, easily produce double wall construction, and have thicker outer corners that make the item(s) stronger than similar things produced by older methods.

When you stop and think about it, the process for creating durable fishing coolers is pretty interesting. However, what really matters is how it performs when you’re away from an ice source. In the end, your number one goal is to keep your fish preserved and your food good and cold while you’re gone.

Advanced fishing coolers from Eddy-Gear and other manufacturers help alleviate this issue for anxious fishermen who don’t want to have to run back to the dock every time they turn around.

Eddy Gear large cooler

Featured image courtesy of Stephan Courtois via Wikimedia Commons