Wedged between the Black and Mediterranean seas, Turkey has been a seafaring nation for millennia. In this capacity, it has often been at the forefront of shipbuilding technology, creating seaworthy craft out of everything from reeds to steel.
The tradition continues to this day in a nondescript industrial building-typical of the more prosperous manufacturing areas in Istanbul-where the five-year-old shipbuilder Turbotsan builds large, seaworthy vessels entirely from plastic.
Inspired by the Zodiac line of inflatables, Turbotsan owner Burcin Yaslan wanted to develop a line of seagoing craft that was larger and sturdier. However, doing so presented a number of technical challenges, including finding a way to weld together the various polyethylene parts making up each hull.
Ultimately, Yaslan solved the problem by implementing a number of handheld Weldplast and Fusion plastic welders and extruders from plastics assembly equipment manufacturer Leister Process Technologies (Itasca, IL).
To build each hull, Turbotsan’s operators first create a frame of polyethylene pipe that serves as the skeleton for the boat-much like the “ribs” in a traditional wooden hull. Operators then weld on a number of plates using the Leister extruders. To ensure the remaining hollow spaces won’t take on water in the event of a leak, they are filled with foamed-expanded polystyrene. The result is a sturdy, long-lasting, lightweight and agile boat that is indistinguishable in terms of performance from a conventionally manufactured boat.
The welded seams between the pipe frame and the hull plates are made using Leister’s most powerful handheld extruder, the Weldplast S4, which produces up to four kilograms of extrudate an hour. The many smaller joints making up the hulls are welded using a Fusion 3C system or the Weldplast S2. Operators use a compact Fusion 2 to execute welds in hard-to-reach areas.
Yaslan and his 20-person team now produce about 40 boats a year. Customers include a number of regional coastguards that have since proven the boats’ abilities to stand up under even the harshest operating conditions.
The boats are available in a range of shapes and sizes, from small open-cockpit vessels to 54-footers with cabins and lower decks. Depending on the customer’s wishes, the boats can be supplied as either bare hulls or complete with engines and fittings. The boats have been so successful, the company plans to expand its production facilities to meet growing demand.
For more on plastics assembly, visit www.leister.com.