Small watercraft are becoming quite the rage nowadays and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Small watercraft have been around since the dawn of time and have been made out of all sorts or materials. Everything from tree trunks, to bamboo rafts and even stretched animal hide have seen the water. All served their purposes with pros and cons for each different material and that same principal continues today. Although the processes and materials are much more technologically advanced, it all boils down to functionality. Let’s have a look at some ways of how small watercraft manufactures are making their boats.Composite, or fiberglass, watercrafts are typically the lightest material out there, but also the most expensive. They are made by using a mold of whatever shape the intended end product will look like by lining the mold with cloth layers. Then you inject the resin which eventually dries and hardens. The top of the watercraft and bottom are done separately, removed and put together using fiberglass cloth and resin; viola, your composite boat is complete. Careful though, although they tend to be the most expensive boat out there, they are the most fragile and don’t hold up to serious abuse.
Thermoform ABS is molded a bit different. It uses a reverse mold that vacuums a sheet of ABS plastic over the outside of the mold. Both the top and bottoms are done separately and must be pieced together using tape and adhesive. Although similar in looks to the composite material, ABS plastic has more give and can withstand more abuse than its composite counterpart.
Now we have polyethylene rotomolded watercrafts. These are the most inexpensive and most durable way to manufacture watercrafts. This process is done by pouring plastic pellets into a metal mold, then sealing that mold and slowly spinning it along its axis as it heats in a giant oven. The molten plastic slowly begins to fill in the nooks and crannies and as it cools it creates the hull of the boat. Once cooled the mold can be removed and now you’re ready to add hatches, seat, skeg, attachment points and so on. Although tough and durable, UV rays can significantly wear down the strength of the polyethylene. It is important to store away from the sun’s rays and add a UV protectant to prolong the life of you boat.
Let’s not forget the ol’ tried and true art of woodworking. Yes, boats are still being manufactured out of wood, but these are typically done by do-it-yourselfers by the way of boat kits. Whether it be by stitch-and-glue or by strip-built, wooden watercrafts are a thing of beauty, lightweight and durable. Slap a coat of resin to help further the shine and protective properties.
As you can see there are many ways in which small watercrafts are manufactured and all have their pros and cons. Next time you’re in the market for a new watercraft, think about the process and which ones may better suit your needs.