Southern Spars has responded to ever-increasing demands for lighter spars from superyacht owners and those on the grand prix regatta circuits by putting into operation a new thin ply technology (TPT) plotter at its facility in Auckland, New Zealand, which will enable it to produce spars that are far lighter and stiffer than ever before.
The TPT carbon fibre technology for manufacturing masts and booms was originally developed by Createx of Cossonay in Switzerland for the 2007 America's Cup. This technology was later acquired by North Sails – sister company to Southern Spars under the North Technology Group umbrella - which refined the process into North 3Di™, the highest performing sail technology, and looked into applying it to rigid carbon fibre-epoxy composites.
'With the automated TPT plotter Southern Spars’ designers have the capability to design products using whichever ply angles are optimal for the loading situation at every point on the spar or boom. The plotter then lays the carbon fibre laminate more accurately and efficiently than can be achieved by hand and it is also possible to individually position pieces, rather than being required to lay all adjacent plies parallel to one another,' says Southern Spars’ technology manager Wayne Smith.
Such precision means there are no limitations to angle, area and thickness, and the use of TPT also allows Southern Spars to use higher quality laminates than its competitors. Previously TPT materials were flown over from Switzerland but now having the new TPT plotter on hand in its redeveloped custom projects facility in Auckland means the pre-built TPT complexes can be plotted as they are required.
With its performance potential already proven in TP52s, 18ft skiffs and RP42s, Southern Spars foresees TPT as the way of the future for the yachting world and will eventually be stepping all yachts with one of its TPT-based spa and rig packages.