Composite Inflatable Pontoon
The goal of this thesis was to design an inflatable pontoon using composite materials which could replace traditional inflatable materials used in the marine industry. Historically, not many people have experimented with different materials going into an inflatable bladder, but rather experimented with the hull design and fastening methods. Not only has minimal research been done on the material comprising the inflatable, but not much research has been done in the past on inflatable vessels all together. The reason for looking into an alternative material is because traditional materials are manufactured into pontoon/collar shapes using longitudinal seams that wear out and fail well before the material fails. This seam issue can be avoided with composites while adding additional benefits as well. Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) materials have become popular over time in the marine industry for their strong, yet lightweight, and multilayer design capabilities in the construction of rigid boat hulls. One thing with FRP’s however, is they have mostly been known for their stiffness capabilities, limited by the matrix which is combined with the fibers to make the FRP laminate. In 2014, Structural Composites Inc. published a patent for a new CoCure™ gelcoat/resin technology which is now changing FRP materials and their capabilities. This new CoCure™ gelcoat/resin technology, discussed further in the following chapters, allows flexibility within Composite materials that has never been possible before. Utilizing these new technologies, this thesis will go into detail explaining the design of an optimized inflatable pontoon structure using FRP materials with high elongation matrices.