Composites in high-speed marine
FB Design race boat.
There are, arguably, few high-speed boat manufacturers who have enjoyed more racing success than FB Design (Annone Brianza, Italy). In more than 45 years of activity, boats made by FB Design have won a total of 52 World Championships, the Harmsworth Trophy seven times (1989, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2003, 2004 and 2010) and have set 56 world speed records established in all existing classes, including UIM and APBA in the US.
Most recently, on July 12, a crew headed by Fabio Buzzi succeeded in setting the new record on the Montecarlo-Roccella Jonica-Venice sea track. With its FB 60-ft/18m boat carrying two MTU engines of 1600 hp, and with only one refueling in Roccella Jonica (Calabria, Italy), and in the last 100 miles of the Northern Adriatic sailing on a very rough sea, the crew took only 22 hours, 5 minutes and 42 seconds to complete the course. With an average speed of 52.3 knots/97 kmh, the team beat the course record by 7 minutes, 35 seconds.
FB Design also manufacturers coast guard and military vessels, racing boats and high-speed leisure boats. Its customers are looking for excellent boat performance and reliability at the same time. The business was established in 1971 by Fabio Buzzi, mechanical engineer and offshore pilot. Buzzi is still the driving force behind the company’s innovation in boat design.
“It is not so easy to make high speed boats that are both strong and safe for the crew,” explains Fabio Buzzi. “For maximum speeds and easy maneuvering in planar mode the boats must be as light as possible. They must also maintain their shape at these elevated velocities, as deformation of the shell will affect the aerodynamic characteristics and boat efficiency. At the same time, the structure must protect the crew in an unlikely situation of an accident. We have been working over many years with the technical support from Aliancys and Euroresins to fine-tune the design, and get the best of out of composites for our products.”
Resins manufacturer Aliancys AG (Schauffhausen, Switzerland) and distributor Euroresins supply Atlac and Synolite resins to FB Design, while providing support to the company through its materials and processing expertise.
The boats are produced with double-shell hulls made via hand lay-up using Atlac 580 ACT and Synolite 288 resins from Aliancys (supplied by Euroresins). Longitudinal stiffeners are built in to provide structural integrity. The space between the double shells and the stiffeners is filled with closed-cell polyurethane foam for maximum floating performance. If the end-use requires ballistic protection, Kevlar, ceramics or ballistic steel can be applied.
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Compared to legacy materials like steel, aluminum, iron and titanium, composites are still coming of age, and only just now are being better understood by design and manufacturing engineers. However, composites’ physical properties — combined with unbeatable light weight — make them undeniably attractive.
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