If you are looking to repair your tubes with patches or to replace any valves on your rigid hull inflatable boat or inflatable it’s essential to know what fabric your inflatable sponsons are made from as it’s very important to use the correct adhesive for the material.
Hypalon and Neoprene Coatings
(Synthetic Rubber Coatings):
Hypalon is a synthetic rubber material patented by DuPont. Hypalon has many applications in many industries and it has proven itself as a material with excellent air holding capabilities and oil resistance. Hypalon coated onto polyester or nylon fabric with an interior coating of neoprene a very reliable and durable inflatable boat fabric and can last for more than a decade even in the harshest environments – which is the reason for warranties of five and 10 years.
The seams in Hypalon boats are either overlapped or butted, and then glued. Butted seams produce an aesthetic, flat, airtight seam, without the ridge or air gaps left by some overlapped seams. However, butted seams are more labor-intensive, thus the boats are usually more expensive. It is always wise to look for an inflatable boat with seams that are double-taped, and are glued on both sides. In stress tests, Hypalon and neoprene glued seams are so strong and reliable that the fabric will fail before the seams.
uPVC is a vinyl polymer chemically known as polyvinyl chloride. It has several applications in the leisure and construction industries. In the inflatable boat industry it is used as a coating on polyester or nylon to increase the strength and tear resistance. Because it is a type of plastic, it can be thermobonded or glued. This allows the manufacturer to mass produce boats on a large scale with machines and unskilled labour. uPVC coated fabrics come in a larger array of colours than Hypalon.
uPVC construction, the seams of uPVC-coated inflatables can be fused together using several different welding techniques. Some manufacturers use either high heat pressure, radio frequencies (RF), or electronic welding. Large, specially developed welding machines must be used to fuse the fabric together. Again, this makes it easier and faster to produce uPVC-coated boats, especially over handcrafted Hypalon boats.
Are your Tubes uPVC or Hypalon?
If you looking to repair your tubes with patches or to replace any valves on your rigid hull inflatable boat or inflatable it’s essential to know what fabric your inflatable sponsons are made from as it’s very important to use the correct adhesive for the material.
There are two main types of material used in the manufacture of inflatable boat tubes.
1. Hypalon:- this is a rubber/neoprene material;
2. uPVC:- used in most production manufactured boats.
Test to Check
There are several tests to check.
A. If you can see the inside of the tube, through the valve, Hypalon is a dark grey or black on the inside. uPVC is the same colour on both sides.
B. Sand the material. Hypalon will matt down and produce a dust. uPVC will just scratch, There will be no difference in colour.
C. Wipe over lightly with MEK (methyl ethyl ketone – often available at hardware, paint or plumbing stores, sold as a cleaner for uPVC pipes or lacquer thinner) or Acetone. Hypalon will leave an oxidization and maybe some colour on the cloth. The material will not be affected. For uPVC you will have some colour on the cloth but, the surface of the material will feel tacky. It is important to use the correct solvent on this solvent test.
List of Known Boat Fabrics
AB, ACHILLES, AQUAFLYTE, AVON, BALLISTIC, BEAUFORT, BRIG*, BWM, CALAGARI, CAMPARI, CARIBE, CHINOOK, COMPASS, DELTA, DOMINO, EUROCRAFT, FLATACRAFT, GOMMONAUTICA, GORDON, HENSHAWS, HUMBER, LOMAC, METZLER*, ML LIFEGUARD, NOVAJOLLY, NOVAMARINE, NOVURANIA, OSPREY, PICTON, RED BAY, REVENGER, RIBCRAFT, RIBTEC, RIB-X, RING, ROBCRAFT, SCANNER, SCORPION, SELVA, SEMPRIT, SELVA, STINGHER, TINKER, YAM RIBS, ZODIAC* (some pre 1968 leisure models – and their commercial range is probably Hypalon).
ARIMAR, BOMBARD, BRIG*, COMPASS II, EUROVINYL, EXCEL, HONDA, LODESTAR, MAXXON, METZLER*, NARWHAL, OMC EXPRESS, PLASTIMO, QUICKSILVER, RIBEYE*, SERIE, SEVYLOR, SUZUMAR, TOHATSU, TYPHOON, VALIANT* VANGUARD* (some larger ribs are PU), WAVELINE, YAM, ZED, ZOOM, ZODIAC* (some pre 1968 leisure models).
TORNADO, VALIANT* VANGUARD* (larger commercial ribs)
Information courtesy of Polymarine, supplier of inflatable boat spares and accessories. Polymarine can supply inflatable boat fabrics by the metre length for patches or larger repairs, the correct glues and of course various valves.
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