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The Significance of a Low Modulus Elasticity in Aluminum Boats

Blog | 07 March 2019

A material that has low modulus elasticity provides impact-absorbing strength. Think of it, the ability to dampen the brunt of any impact. Sure, spongy rubbers possess that attribute, but who wants to strap layers of rubber around a streamlined boat? No, the hull material, aluminium in this case, should be structurally stiff while it also delivers a simultaneous measure of energy-absorbing strength.

Coming Out Against Hull Brittleness

Taking a contrary viewpoint, just for a minute or two, what happens if you purchase a vessel that can’t absorb an occasional knock? Glass-reinforced plastic (fibreglass) hulls are relatively brittle, not elastic. Just tap one of their prows. There’s a hollow rapping sound and no yield to the brittle substance. Granted, the material structure of a fibreglass boat is hard, but it’ll come off all the worse for wear when it strikes a rocky outcropping. Fundamentally speaking, there’s a big difference between a surface that’s outwardly hard and one that’s as impact-resistant as it is tough.

Dependably Tough and Flexible Aluminium Hulls

Not only do aluminium boats provide a hardened frame skin, but they also furnish that all-important, impact dampening modulus of elasticity. The material is essentially slightly ductile. When it’s struck by a boat dock support or a submerged rock, it deforms and gains a dent. Naturally enough, a boat owner doesn’t want an ugly, hull disfiguring dent, but isn’t such a defect better than a crack or hole? After a boat gains a dent, it can still make its way back to shore, after all. With a fibreglass fracture, the whole vessel could sink, so the crew will have to quickly abandon ship. When all’s said and done, a dent is better than a life-endangering hull puncture. Besides, and this is again a result of aluminium’s ductility, what was deformed can be repaired. It doesn’t take much work, not for an expert boat repairer, to smooth out a thin metal-skinned dent.

This point cannot be emphasized enough, brittle boat skins have seen their day. If a boat is on a lake, a body of water that’s littered with rocky outcroppings, opt for a hull that features low modulus elasticity. It’ll absorb most impacts. For those hits that can’t be fully absorbed, the metal will deform but won’t fracture. That’s a hallmark that could save a boat, and it certainly has saved lives. Fibreglass skins do, of course, find their ways into many ships, but they’re not the safest option, not on a body of water that’s dotted with impact-making features. Similarly, on troublesome docking facilities, ductile aluminium panels won’t crack or puncture.

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