Carbon Rigging Q&A – Future Fibres

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The latest instalment in our series of question and answer sessions is with the Valencia based rigging manufacturer, Future Fibres. Future Fibres has a long history in the field of composite rigging and remains at the forefront of our industry. This is their response to the same 10 questions we posed to all major carbon rigging manufacturers:

Rigging News: What is your carbon rigging product called?Future Fibres: We have two carbon core technologies:
• TSC – a solid ThermoSet Carbon rod.
• FlexC™ – our innovative flexible carbon cables.
RN: What are its applications?
FF: We offer multiple fibres and firmly believe certain fibres and construction technologies favour specific applications.
• Our TSC carbon is optimised and best suited for lateral rigging applications (verticals/diagonals), bobstays and other structural stays.
• FlexC™ is currently primarily an aft rigging product, however, it is being gradually introduced into forestays and in the future is expected to provide a good lateral rigging option.
RN: Where do you produce your rigging?
• In our 6,000m2 facility in Valencia, Spain.
• Within this facility we build all rigging elements, and also have a fully equipped CNC metalwork machine shop.
• Our Mast building and R &D and test facilities are also housed in our facility in Valencia providing full seamless integration between these departments.

RN: What is the construction method?
FF: All Future Fibres cables are manufactured using continuously wound fibre to create the inherently simple, safe and strong fibre loop. At the outset of our carbon development programme a few years ago we reviewed all existing construction techniques but, once again, concluded that continuously wound fibre provides THE BEST fibre alignment and load sharing of any composite cable production technology providing the highest cable performance in terms of strength and weight for a given stretch.

Pre-preg carbon tow is wound around titanium spools, in the same way as our traditional dry fibre construction; it is then consolidated, cured and finished. The result is a solid, circular section, carbon rod.

The cable uses a custom carbon fibre which we impregnate with our own specially designed matrix, allowing us complete control of the quality and finish. The impregnated fibre tow is then wound, consolidated and covered with a braid layer for chafe protection.

RN: What are the benefits of that method?
FF: TSC is the smallest diameter and lightest product available on the market today. It is made from a higher modulus carbon than the industry standard T800 which provides, for the first time, a weight and diameter advantage over PBO. However, the material still falls within the Intermediate Modulus classification which is considered suitable for structural applications, due to its high break strength and resistance to impact.

One of the biggest long term benefits of TSC solid carbon is that it allows us to use ultra-sound and other forms of NDT to actively manage cable health and enable qualified judgments on cable life. Solid carbon cables are the only composite cable construction to allow the use of NDT testing in this way.

FlexC™ is truely unique. It combines all the benefits of carbon fibre (stiffness, strength and excellent fatigue resistance) with the flexibility, impact resistance and general handling benefits of a dry fibre cable. For the same stiffness, a FlexC™ cable is lighter and smaller in diameter than competitors´ solid carbon rod but is fully flexible.

RN: How long does it last in a lateral rigging capacity?
• This depends on application and use but in general there is little or no noticeable fatigue in carbon cables.
• Compression is one of the major factors leading to cable fatigue but at a fibre level, Carbon handles compression extremely well.
• However, generic claims of everlasting life on carbon cables are misleading and not a view we support. Life is increasingly determined by the metal end fittings rather than the cable itself but that still translates into a finite life. This is another significant benefit of the wound fibre loop construction method (which we pioneered) because it offers the greatest potential to remove metal from the termination altogether.
• Active maintenance will always prolong cable life.

RN:Your biggest boat?
FF: Baltic 45m Pink Gin – full set of TSC discontinuous rigging.

RN: Your Smallest Boat?
FF: Shaw 10m – FlexC™ lateral rigging.

RN: Which boat stands out from the crowd / most memorable one and why?
FF: Probably the recently relaunched mini maxi, Shockwave. We supplied a new set of RDS rigging which was installed on a new mast, also supplied by Future Fibres. This project went from stepping, sea trials, NYYC regatta and the Newport-Bermuda race all in the space of 2 weeks. The boat won both races, a great result ‘straight out of the box’ both for Shockwave and for Future Fibres.

RN: Any additional info you would like to share.
• Future Fibres were the first and remain the only composite rigging manufacturer to achieve Germanischer Lloyd Type Approval on both our TSC carbon and PBO fibre technologies.
• We are currently working on a megayacht project for delivery 2014 with main V1 TSC cable size in excess of Dash 1,000.
• Over the last 2 years both our TSC and FlexC products have been through an extremely tough testing programme and completed both the Barcelona World Race and the Volvo Ocean Race. Whilst we have had a few issues, FlexC has performed extremely well on both Puma and Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi’s current TSC rigging now has the highest mileage on it of any lateral rigging system in the current race (all other teams have changed out during the race).


  Comments: 4

  1. Very intesting – thanks. Where do I find the previous Q and A's?

  2. Rigging Projects

    @ Anonymous: Click on the Label titled 'Carbon Rigging Q-A' at the bottom of the post. Thanks!

  3. When are you posting Southenrn Spars?

  4. Rigging Projects

    We have contacted Southern Spars and are awaiting their reply. We are also hoping to get a Q&A from Smart Rigging which would complete this series. Thanks for reading / commenting.