Your boat is gliding across azure waters. Waves are splashing around you, and the sun is setting in the background on your lazy day on the ocean. You are thinking of one thing and one thing only: relaxation. Thoughts about how your boat was constructed, especially the adhesives used to hold it together, don’t occur to you. Most people are concerned about what bait to use or whether they’ve stocked enough cold beverages. They may never think about how many different elements go into crafting their boat.

The structural adhesive that holds a boat together is not on most people’s minds-but it probably deserves some thought. The reason? Bonding the liner of a boat to its hull is a critical factor in the construction of any boat.

Table 1. Typical Properties

A New Solution

Ashland Performance Materials, a commercial unit of Ashland Inc., has a long history in the boat manufacturing industry as well as decades of experience in selling resins and gel coats to boat builders. Two years ago, Ashland Performance Materials began trials of a structural acrylic adhesive to offer boat-builders an alternative to conventional polyester-based bonding paste. Bonding paste, which is a traditional material used to join boat parts, requires labor-intensive application and can be somewhat brittle in its cured state.

Ashland developed Pliogrip™ 1000 structural adhesive, which can enable a 10 by 10 in. square of material to withstand the pressure from the equivalent weight of more than 35 elephants. Pliogrip 1000 is a clean, high-performance and high-strength adhesive that gets the job done, especially for boats of a higher quality (see Table 1).

The new adhesive has many advantages over bonding paste, but John Baetz, senior product manager for Ashland, knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task introducing the new Pliogrip 1000 adhesive to boat manufacturers. “Boat manufacturers can be reluctant to use new resources when their current process of boat building is working,” says Baetz. “They don’t want to risk spending the money to try something new that could fail both their customers and themselves. We knew we had a great product that would benefit the boat manufacturing process, so if we could just get a foot in the door, the product would speak for itself.”

The new adhesive offers the gap-filling capability and sag resistance required in marine bonding applications.

Case in Point

That is exactly what happened. A major boat manufacturer decided to use Pliogrip 1000 structural adhesive for its newest and biggest boat to date. The manufacturer found that bonding paste was too brittle and labor-intensive for its new model. A boat the size of the new craft needed to be able to flex as it moved through the water. The bonding paste had reached its point of suitability with the smaller boats, and the manufacturer needed a different material to reach the appropriate flexibility.

Pliogrip 1000 adhesive offered the desired flexibility, and it provided the durability required to withstand higher stresses. The new adhesive also offered the gap-filling capability and sag resistance required in marine bonding applications. As time went on, the boat manufacturer found that using the Pliogrip adhesive offered even more advantages.

“With polyester bonding paste, there is a lot of preparation time on the surfaces before they may be bonded. Both surfaces must be sanded, swept out to get rid of the dust, and then wiped down with solvent,” Baetz said. “Pliogrip structural adhesives need no prep time for the surface of the boat, which saves on labor hours and material costs.”

Multiple Benefits

An additional labor-saving advantage is the way Pliogrip adhesive is applied in the manufacturing process. The structural adhesive is dispensed onto the liner of the boat by a meter-mix machine, while bonding paste is troweled on by hand. Curing is also faster with Pliogrip adhesive than polyester bonding paste. Many hours are saved because of the reduction in prep time and the consistent application of the adhesive.

Ashland Performance Materials provides technical support that Mike Abele, product development coordinator, says is rivaled by no other competitor. “The reputation of our technical support for our boat manufacturers is so great that it added to the benefits and advantages we were giving to this customer,” says Abele. “It helped the customer decide that they didn’t want to just stop with Pliogrip 1000 adhesive for their one boat line.”

The service and support provided by Ashland, as well as the reduced labor hours and the flexibility for its new boat, contributed to the manufacturer’s decision to adopt Pliogrip 1000 structural adhesive for all of its boat lines. Every boat that the manufacturer constructs now uses Pliogrip 1000 adhesive and a curative called Pliogrip 1080 to save time and money.

The major boat manufacturer’s partnership with Ashland, along with the benefits and value of the Pliogrip 1000 adhesive, helped maintain the quality and expertise the boating company wanted for its new boat line. The collaboration of the two companies brought a leading boat product and a superior bonding material together to introduce a masterpiece in craftsmanship.

For more information regarding structural adhesives for marine applications, contact John Baetz, product manager, Ashland Performance Materials at (614) 790-3273.

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