10 advantages of marine aluminum as naval construction material (I)

One of the main lines of expertise of Metaltec Naval is the development of aluminum conversion and shipbuilding projects. It is a material that not only offers advantages of technical and ecological sort, but is promoted by legislation both within the framework of the European Union and the US, especially in the field of service vessels (passengers , port support, security, etc.).

It should be noted, as an example, that the US Navy itself is using aluminum as a construction material for its new litoral combat vessels, as part of its modernization process (see: ‘Austal USA christens 16th litoral combat ship’).

This first post in our corporate blog starts a series of two articles in which we will address, as a decalogue, the main advantages of marine grade aluminum over other materials such as polyester.

-Passenger aluminum catamaran Doblemar Dos

In the image above, the passenger marine aluminum catamaran Doblemar Dos, built in the shipyards of Metaltec Naval for 144 passengers, with double deck, 18.8 m. of length, 8 of breadth and a speed of 16 knots.

1. Robustness: increased strength and rigidity.

Aluminum has greater strength than fiberglass laminates. Vessels are more robust, the whole structure is more rigid and the material suffers less from fatigue.

Thanks to its high ductility, it has a greater capacity to absorb deformations without breaks in case of impacts. The ship suffers less wear and abrasion during its use, besides during transportation, launching, stranding, cleaning, etc.

2. Lower weight, lower consumption.

Vessels made of aluminum are lighter than those made of polyester, steel or wood. This lower weight implies a lower propulsion requirement for the same performance, also engine, fuel consumption and emissions savings; with their corresponding advantages not only in economic efficiency, but also environmental.

3. Greater safety and sealing.

In case of fire the aluminum does not burn, unlike the boats of polyester or wood. In turn, in the event of a collision, the aluminum deforms without cracks or fissures, except situations of very violent impacts.

On the other hand, taking into account the possibility of weldingt the different accessories of the deck or the interior directly to its structure without having to perforate it, a greater sealing is achieved.

4. Effectiveness and speed in repairs.

In an aluminum ship a breakdown by collision, whether there are breakages or simply a deformation, can be easily repaired with total guarantee without any reduction in the strength of the hull.

Repairs to other material’s hulls do not always restore the original mechanical properties, in addition to being slower, of higher cost and longer time out of use.

Monohull of aluminum and hybrid propulsion St Martin

The St Martin is a monohull of hybrid propulsion, built by Metaltec Naval in aluminum and with a a capacity of 147 passengers. The vessel, 18.85 m. of length and 6 of breadth, operates in the Bay of Santander for the tourist company Santander Bahia Tours.

5. Lower maintenance cost.

The encrustation of microorganisms and the processes of corrosion are two of the main variables of deterioration of any type of vessel. In both cases, aluminum has obvious advantages over other construction materials.

Thus, the fouling capacity is lower in a properly treated aluminum hull, whereas the strength of the current alloys is excellent. In fact, the degradation is practically null with an adequate cathodic protection system, ie against the electrochemical process of galvanic corrosion.

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