Core Builders Composites Ltd. of Warkworth designed and built the entire fleet of 45-foot multihulled, wing-sailed catamarans, known as the AC45, that defender Oracle Racing Inc. and challengers will race in regattas leading up to the 34th America's Cup. Those races will culminate in 2013 in a final match that will be fought with mammoth 72-foot versions — still in design.
A boatload of composites went into the AC45, requiring Core to enlist a host of specialized suppliers.
* Echternach, Luxembourg-based Euro-Composites makes the yacht's honeycomb core using phenolic-coated Nomex meta-aramid fibers and a non-metallic lightweight structural material. Nomex is a trademark for flame-resistant meta-aramid material developed by DuPont Co.
* The Tulsa, Okla., plant of Advanced Composites Group Ltd., based in Heanor, England, manufactures variable-temperature-molding 264 resin for impregnating carbon unidirectional tapes and fabric reinforcements. Curing the VTM264 resin at a low temperature gives builders flexibility in choosing mold material and reduces thermal expansion. Core uses the reinforcements in laminations. VTM264 prepreg curing is done in an autoclave or a vacuum bag with pressure approaching a negative-one atmosphere, said ACG marine market manager John Howard. ACG's variable-temperature molding film adhesive 260 was supplied “to gain a strong bond between carbon laminate and the honeycomb core material,” Howard said. ACG is a unit of Umeco plc.
* Wing-spar materials from Wattzil, Switzerland-based Gurit Holding AG include M-foam with a styrene-acrylonitrile copolymer base, carbon double-bias XC411 fabric, Kevlar cloth RA175P and carbon-fiber fabric RC200P, said Gurit sales manager Sean Jeffery. “Also, we supplied biaxial carbon BC500 for mold making, various vacuum bagging consumables and, as a part supplier, some Nomex honeycomb core,” Jeffery said. Gurit makes M-foam in Magog, Quebec, and Tianjin, China, and XC411 and BC500 in Newport on England's Isle of Wight. A Hexcel Corp. facility in Les Avenieres, France, makes the RA175P, and a producer in Japan makes the RC200P.
* All secondary bonding operations use ADR laminating epoxies from Adhesive Technologies Ltd. of Auckland, New Zealand. “Some materials have been supplied with more than one end use in mind,” said support and sales team member Rex Sly.
* Mitsubishi Rayon Group's Newport Adhesives and Composites Inc. of Irvine, Calif., supplies NCT310 unidirectional carbon fiber using T700-grade fiber from Toray Industries Inc. of Tokyo.
* Carbo-Link GmbH of Fehraltorf, Switzerland, makes carbon-fiber polymer-matrix spine cable.
* Resene Paints Ltd. of Upper Hutt, New Zealand, supplies the Durepox modified epoxy urethane that Core uses as a final finish for the bulkheads.