Hawkeye Manufacturing, AOC partner on spa/hot tub

The Bossetti spa/hot tub combo from Barefoot Fitness Spas (Richmond, Va.) features a thermoformed acrylic, FRP-backed 2,000-gallon tub that can seat five adults.

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Resin supplier AOC (Collierville, Tenn.) and spa producer Hawkeye Manufacturing Inc. (Richmond, Va.) collaborated to produce one of the largest, most complex single-piece spa liners on the market. The Bossetti combination spa and hot tub, marketed to consumers by Richmond-based Barefoot Fitness Spas, is a 2,000-gallon tub with seating for five adults. In addition to its size, notable features include 37 stainless-steel spa jets, 6 adjustable-flow swim jets, flow fountains and a waterfall. Named after an exotic Argentine waterfall, the spas offer a variety of recreation options, from a family relaxation session to resistance exercises.

Hawkeye Manufacturing’s workforce uses AOC materials technology and technical support to ensure the quality and durability of the product. “With a unit this large, we had to be right the first time,” says Hawkeye VP Casey Murray. “The unit’s size makes it difficult — and more expensive — to transport and install. Any issues in the field would create an enormous cost.”

Hawkeye Manufacturing starts with a sheet of acrylic that is heated and vacuum-formed into the shape of the spa’s smooth, seamless "uni-liner." After mastering the technique for forming the large, complex Bossetti liner, the next challenge was developing a protocol for the fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) structural composite back-up.

According to Murray, the major concerns for the composite manufacturing step were:

  • Precisely controlling composite thickness variations that are needed for the complex liner,
  • Controlling the exothermic heat generated during composite cure to prevent spikes that could distort the liner shape, and
  • Ensuring extremely strong adhesion between the composite and liner.

Murray said Hawkeye Manufacturing found the right solutions with help from AOC sales representative Berk Pleasants. “ We ran his recommendations by the acrylic supplier and received confirmation that the composite and acrylic liner were compatible.”

The first step for the back-up composite is the application of a barrier coat consisting of chopped glass fibers and AOC's Altek H100 vinyl ester. This technique is similar to that used in boatbuilding and serves the same purpose, to prevent moisture from reaching and affecting the integrity of the thicker composite structure. The vinyl ester also promotes adhesion between the composite and acrylic. To finish the back-up laminate, Hawkeye technicians apply chopped fiber in Altek C949 polyester.

“This spa is larger than anything we have ever produced before,” Murray stated. “The consistency of AOC resins and outstanding AOC technical support were essential to helping us reach this milestone.”

Hawkeye Manufacturing is a large spa producer in the eastern U.S. Its waste-reduction and recycling policies have reportedly earned recognition from the State of Virginia Department of Environment Quality. The company’s product-development and quality-control standards received a Five-Star “Best of Class” rating from industry PoolandSpa.com. For more information, contact Hawkeye Manufacturing, Tel.: (804) 231-7727; E-mail: info@hawkeyemfg.com; Web site: www.hawkeyemfg.com.

AOC is a global supplier of resins, gel coats, colorants, additives and synergistic material systems for composites and cast polymers. For more information, contact Leslie Beck, Tel.: (901) 854-2318; E-mail: lbeck@aoc-resins.com; Web site: www.aoc-resins.com.