An Australian manufacturer of low density polyethylene recreational boats has exclusive rights to a new PE resin that it says reduces the boats' weight without compromising strength.
Brent Roberts, sales manager for Bundaberg-based Polycraft, claims that Aquathene Max HD resin makes its boats lighter and more durable than others on the market.
Polycraft's parent, Bundaberg-based National Poly Industries Pty. Ltd., has manufactured PE products for more than 15 years.
Roberts said Aquathene resin was developed by Vanglobe Pty. Ltd., a Brisbane-based company that specializes in compounding and micronizing rotomolding powder. “Vanglobe came to us with the resin and asked if we wanted to use it,” he said.
Before Polycraft began using Aquathene, its rotational molded, ultraviolet-stabilized LDPE boats, which have an inner hull within the outer shell, were heavier than similar-sized boats built from marine-grade aluminum.
The molding process is the same, but the new resin allows Polycraft to reduce the thickness of the boats' linings. “Aquathene resin is much stronger,” Roberts said. “It enables us to make the inner liner thinner, which reduces the boats' weight because we don't need as much resin.”
Polycraft's 9.8-foot Tuff Tender is the first model in its range to be manufactured using Aquathene, and has lost 44 pounds. It now weighs 147 pounds and can carry a 15-horsepower outboard motor, compared with a 10.2-foot aluminum boat that weighs 134 pounds but can only handle an 8-horsepower outboard.
The new resin has allowed Polycraft to reduce the Tuff Tender's price. The old Tuff Tender model sold for US$2,014 but now costs US$1,763 for a base model. Roberts said Polycraft soon hopes to manufacture its other models from Aquathene.
Roberts said LDPE is ideal for building boats, compared to traditional materials such as fiberglass and aluminum, because it is not susceptible to electrolysis or osmosis, never requires painting, is easy to clean, is UV-stable and requires little or no maintenance.
Plastic boats are more flexible, which enhances their water performance because the hull, rather than the passengers, absorbs wave impact and noise, he said.
Since Polycraft started in 1998, it has grown to produce six sizes of boats with multiple configurations. The company has started exporting overseas, including to India and Papua New Guinea.
“At this stage we're not actively looking to export into other markets, like China or the U.S. At the moment, inquiries come to us and that's why we export. In the future, we may start to actively look,” Roberts said.