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A Seadek installation from start to finish

by Matt Churchward, TMS 22 Feb 2019 17:00 GMT
Seadek comes in 2 x 1m sheets with a bespoke 3M self-adhesive backing © Technical Marine Supplies

Start to finish custom installation of Seadek on a new Winder Boats Merlin Rocket "Khalessi"

SeaDek is a non-skid, closed cell EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) material that offers a safe and comfortable alternative to moulded-in non-skid, paint-on textures, and other marine traction products currently available. The product is both durable and shock absorbent, SeaDek provides not only an exceptional traction surface but also lessens the fatigue brought on from prolonged standing and kneeling in dinghies. Its application is very easy using the 3M self-adhesive backing and there are many design and colour possibilities to make your boat look unique.

The customer arrived for the installation, and once the boat was unpacked we set about cleaning and beginning the templating process. For this project we are using 6mm material which is made up of two colours, the bottom 3mm is Orange and the top 3mm Dark Grey, the material is fused together, not bonded. The Seadek is cut on a CNC machine, which uses a CAD design to map the pattern so the cutting head knows exactly where to cut or machine the material.

We use a Mylar to make the initial templates, the Mylar is cut into rough shapes, and then the outline is drawn onto the Mylar, this is important as once this is done the template is laid onto a table and is photographed. This is the clever bit, the software then converts this image into a CAD drawing, which then needs to be checked by one of the technicians. The process is time consuming to correct all of the imperfections in the pen lines against the boat to ensure we get the correct panel shape.

Once we are happy with this we cut a set of "dry fits". These are panels cut out of Mylar but by the CNC machine, so an exact replica as if it were being cut out of the Seadek material. This is then laid into the boat to be checked, and small alterations can be made to ensure the panel is perfect prior to cutting it out of the finish Seadek material. This part of the process is well worthwhile as it is much cheaper to make errors using Mylar than wasting Seadek!

The templating, digitising and preparation are the most time consuming part of any installation, and if you also add designs such as teak lines or as in this application hexagon detail this also adds to the digitisation process as we do our best to make the design symmetrical across the install.

Once everyone is happy with the templates, and additional design detail we can look at any logos that are to be added. As this project is for the upcoming RYA Dinghy show at Alexandra Palace we have decided to showcase both variations of logo that can be achieved in the material. For the boat name Khaleesi we have used the "Inlay" technique, where we completely remove the material that makes the text and logo, and inlay the void with an alternative colour. Inlay logos can be used in all thicknesses of material. The "Seadek" logo and hexagon detail is machined into the material, using a routing head on the CNC machine, this removes the top layer of Dark Grey material to expose the Orange underneath, adding texture to the finish. Machined logos are only possible in material that is 5mm or thicker. With these added to the design files we are ready to cut out the floor.

The Seadek comes in 2 x 1m sheets with a bespoke 3M self-adhesive backing. This backing has been developed to bond specifically to the Seadek material, ensuring there is no chance of adhesion failure between the Seadek and the adhesive. The sheets are laid onto the CNC bed and held in place using suction whilst they are cut. Cutting times vary depending on the amount of detail in the design and logos, and of course the size of the panels to be cut out, lots of little panels will take much longer to cut than one larger one.

As these roll off the machine we can commence the fitting process, firstly by cleaning up using an alcohol-based cleaner, so it will not damage the gluing surface finish, but will remove oils, greases and dust prior to sticking. We then split the backing using a sharp knife and apply the material from the centre of each panel outwards, the nice thing with Seadek is the pliability the material can be slightly stretched or compressed to get the perfect fit.

Once we have applied the panels, including those with inlay logos, we can then remove the grey "logos". When we removed the backing to bond these panels in we did not take the backing off the logo or lettering that was going to be removed after the panel was fitted, we leave these in place to ensure the panel retains its exact shape. These are then removed and we apply the logo and lettering in the alternative colour to finish the panels.

We have a very flexible approach to the supply of Seadek, it can be bought in sheets or tapes from any chandlery for DIY cutting and fitting, some may need to order the product in for you due to the colour and thickness options available. Kits can be manufactured to customer's own templates again for DIY install or you can go the whole hog and boats can be taken to dealers for a full start to finish installation as detailed above. This allows those on a budget to still access the high quality product if they are prepared to get their hands dirty!

In the UK we stock in brushed finish 3mm material in sheets (2 x 1m) in the following colours; Storm Grey, Dark Grey, Black, Bahama Blue and Ruby Red. We also stock tapes, these are 100mm wide x 2m long strips ideal for trapeze boats; these are available in Storm Grey, Black, Bahama Blue and Ruby Red. Thicker material in 5 and 6mm is available to order and lead times vary depending on the colour options: some are held in the UK, whilst some will need to be ordered from the factory in the USA.

If you would like to find out more or locate a dealer local to you please contact us via the website or alternatively come along to the Dinghy show and have a look at several boats there with the floor fitted, including Khalessi on the Merlin Rocket class stand. We will be on hand to discuss the possibilities.

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