Solvay composites selected for racing catamaran

Solvay’s VTM-264 prepreg will be used for structural parts and wingsail of a new catamaran from Spanish manufacturer Balance Aquitectural Naval.


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Solvay’s (Alpharetta, Ga., U.S.) carbon fiber composite materials have been selected by boat manufacturer Balance Aquitectural Naval (Murcia, Spain) for the structure — and sails — of a new racing catamaran, Balance A+.

Solvay’s carbon fiber is used to build structural parts for the Balance A+ such as the hull, as well as the wingsail, an aerodynamic rigid structure similar to an airplane wing that replaces a conventional sail. 

“Using rigid wings is an increasingly frequent solution for racing boats,” explains Carlos Simarro, account manager at Solvay's composite materials unit in Madrid. “They are more efficient to capture wind power, whether light or strong.”

The material used is Solvay’s VTM-264 prepreg, described by the company as a lightweight and highly resistant type of long fiber thermoset (LFT). According to Solvay, VTM-264 only requires a temperature of 65°C for cure, meaning it can be used for large parts without need for expensive curing equipment such as an autoclave. The material is also said to enable high-performance characteristics such as maximum stiffness and minimum weight.

The family of VTM 260 resins are named according to their viscosity, which determines the quality of the fiber impregnation. The medium viscosity VTM-264, which impregnates a reinforcement weight of 200 to 400 grams per square meter, was chosen for properties such as its low porosity.

“For wings, you need low porosity to obtain a smooth and regular surface without any imperfections and free of internal voids during the consolidation of the laminate,” Simarro says. “If the temperatures of the curing cycle aren’t right, the resin doesn’t impregnate the fabric properly, which will lead to poor part quality, and the wing won’t be as efficient.”
“Balance Arquitectura has a global presence and a good reputation; we’re very proud to work with such a highly regarded company,” adds Simarro. “The marine market is small but provides good visibility, especially with high-profile races like the America’s Cup. Many prestigious racing teams use our materials for their boats.”