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European Shipyards Can Become Competitive and More Environmentally Friendly


Shipyards throughout Europe could become more competitive, and help the environment, by moving away from welding and using adhesive bonding for joining lightweight materials. That is the result of BONDSHIP, a major initiative to funded with €4.6 million (euros) under the Sustainable Surface Transport programme of the EU’s Framework Programme.

The aim of the project was to achieve considerable cost savings in the production and operation of more fuel-efficient passenger ships, ferries and high-speed craft and so make European shipyards more competitive. The added benefit of adhesive bonding is that it will also make positive contributions to the preservation and improvement of the quality of the environment by reducing the amount of welding slag created.

From studies carried out in the project group, it was estimated that adhesive bonding would provide a cost saving of at least 20% for fastening of supports, stiffeners and other attachments in outfitting of large passenger ships. For a patrol craft reductions in building costs through the use of adhesive bonding in the superstructure can be expected to be around 25 to 30%. For fast ferries, another important benefit is a weight reduction of the structure by about 4.5 to 9 tons.

Over a period of 20 years these weight savings can save between 8,000 to 16,000 tons of diesel. At current fuel prices this saving is worth about 1.6 to 3.2 million euros.

“Adhesive bonding will have a significant impact on current shipbuilding practice of passenger ships”, says project co-ordinator Ajay Kapadia, form VT Composite Technology Centre. “It will trigger considerable future development far beyond the scope of the project by opening up new possibilities for all types of modular construction.

“Shipyards will benefit further by increasing the flexibility within their build schedule as they will be able to use subcontractors to produce the modules. In addition, shorter time between the signing of the contract and delivery of the vessel will help open up new opportunities for SMEs (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) to provide services to shipyards.

“The environmental benefits are also likely to be substantial. It has been estimated that a medium size shipyard produces about 60 tons per year of welding slag - considered special waste for which a controlled disposal is required. To help reduce this significantly, the focus of the project was on aluminium-aluminium, aluminium-steel and aluminium-composite joints.”

The widespread use of adhesive bonding should also lead to considerable improvements of the working conditions in production. This is because the units are made in environments with controlled temperature, humidity and light and with improved ergonometry by allowing easier access and no overhead work. Bonded connections are straight and do not usually require rework, unlike welding of aluminium where filling and sanding work is needed. Additionally, by replacing welding with adhesive bonding welding fumes and potential fire hazards or explosions (particularly during repair) due to the welding heat are eliminated.

“BONDSHIP is a perfect example of how Framework Funding is being used to bring together expertise from across the EU to help make our industries more competitive”, says Cliff Funnell, FP6UK National Contact Point for Surface Transport (Maritime). “The project brought together 13 partners from seven Member and Associated States and the results will be of benefit to shipbuilders and businesses in other construction sectors.”

“The current Framework Programme (FP6) runs until 2006 and organisations wanting free, easy to access, information on the €19bn (euros) of funding available to support internationally collaborative R&D should log on to or call central telephone support on 0870 600 6080.”

The main results of the BONSHIP project are:
· guidelines for design and modelling of joints
· acceptance tests and criteria
· test and inspection methods for joints
· documented application cases and joint designs
· material data
· repair guidelines
· documented production and assembly procedures
· practical experience and skills from using adhesives in a shipyard.

Dave Sanders | alfa
Further information:

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