New Light in Local Boat Building Sector

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The boat and ship building industry has shown considerable development within the last few years and is identified as one of the key players in the export sector of Sri Lanka. However, majority of the players in the boat building sector has not yet adopted the use of advanced composite materials and advanced innovative technologies, but rather use fibre glass materials and technologies such as hand lay-up and spray-up processes to meet their needs.

The global boat building industry has shifted from fiberglass to polymer composite structures and use advanced composite moulding technologies. In Sri Lanka, few industry players use advanced materials and technologies to be on par with global counterparts. Lack of infrastructure facilities within state universities for transforming advanced composite manufacturing technologies is a key barrier for future development of the boat building sector in Sri Lanka.

To address the existing knowledge gap, the NSF supported Dr U. I. K. Galappaththi/Senior Lecturer, from the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering of University of Ruhuna to manufacture model boats using Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Moulding (VARTM) process. VARTM process was successfully used to design composite laminate structures for three prototypes, PANGA 22, Dingy and flat bottomed Theppama.

 With over 45 participants representing SMEs, Sri Lanka Navy and leading private sector boat builders, a knowledge dissemination workshop was held at the University of Ruhuna.

Lectures followed by hands-on experience sessions provided a good platform to create awareness on the technologies used in global applications in boat building sector and other application areas such as aerospace & railway structures, wind turbines and marine vessels.

A booklet containing guidelines for manufacturing boats using VARTM technique, equipment and consumables required, manufacturing procedure, mixing ratios of fibre and matrix materials and selection of equipment was circulated among all participants.

This project funded under the Technology Grant Scheme of the NSF paved the way to develop a knowledge hub, Boat Building E-Hub (BBEHUB), where local boat builders are able to explore advanced composite manufacturing technologies. A sustainable platform created to link with the University of Ruhuna for future research and knowledge transfer activities in ship and boat building sector of Sri Lanka is another major outcome achieved under this project.


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