FRP mold cost

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Guido, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. Guido
    Joined: Oct 2011
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    Guido Junior Member

    Is there anybody who has any information about average cost to produce a good quality mold (at least for 20-30 boats) by different way (i.e. NC , standard way, etc.) in €/Kg or €/sqm?
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  2. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Guido; we are not ignoring you. Your question simply does not have enough information to elicit a fair answer. A canoe mold for example could be built rather inexpensively. On the other hand a mold for an 18 meter boat would be far more expensive on a cavity volume basis. Be more specific about the boat and perhaps a knowledgeable person will reply.
     
  3. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    It largely depends on the shape.
     
  4. Guido
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    Guido Junior Member

    I'm sorry for my poor specifications. I'm interested in medium cost for a mold of a power boat (semidisplacement hull) 47-50' LOA and 15' beam.
    Thanks everybody
     
  5. u4ea32
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    u4ea32 Senior Member

    I got prices from some mold builders for a similar sized boat. For a mold that is good for building that many copies, the price is in the million dollar range. That's a lot of coin to invest in this economy.

    I also discovered that the cost to build one-off molds is almost nothing, like $5K to $10K. I could not see how it made sense to invest in very expensive tooling until the number of yachts actually built got to be a lot more than 20 or 30.

    In any event, I'd spend some time talking to experienced builders. There are a lot around in Italy, and they will tell you what experienced quality builders all around the world told me: build throw away molds, they are very cheap, and allows you to respond to market conditions without having all your capital tied up in tooling.

    To quote Reggie Fountain on October 4th 2011: “This is no time to put millions into tooling.”

    http://speedonthewater.com/in-the-n...-is-no-time-to-put-millions-into-tooling.html
     
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  6. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    The shape changes the price. Ridges, openings, coves, etc. add to the complexity and cost.
     
  7. jim lee
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    jim lee Senior Member

    $225 / sq ft.

    Rule of thumb we use.

    -jim lee
     
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  8. CMS
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    CMS New Member

    The cost of a reasonable quality fibreglass mould will be in the order of twice the cost to build a hull
     
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  9. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    The best and cheapest I know of was called the Franz Mass method in the 60's

    A plug is built and an Airex foam core boat is created on the plug.

    The hull is filled and faired to perfection and the female mold is created.

    Advantage , the 1st boat will be lighter and faster stronger than the rest of the fleet.

    The first boat can eventually be sold , after it has worked as test bed and demonstrator. .
     
  10. Guido
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    Guido Junior Member

    Thanks everybody for your replies.
    The "build throw away molds" seems to be the more obvious and cheaper solution. What about its construction process and quality? Any reference material about it?
     
  11. u4ea32
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    u4ea32 Senior Member

    All builders I talked to directly contridicted Gonzo and CMS. This is not to say that they are wrong, but every single builder told me that shape had essentially ZERO impact on cost, and that the cost of the one off mold was so cheap as to be in the noise on even a one-off construction effort.

    So again, I strongly suggest you talk to some builders to get real numbers from the horses mouth.
     
  12. spiritgide
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    spiritgide Junior Member

    Alternative

    There's a company in Louisiana, Seemen Composites, that makes a product called C-flex. This is a fiberglass planking that allows construction of large vessels with very good precision over a throw-away mold skeleton built from inexpensive materials, such as packing crate plywood or demolition lumber. The best way I've ever seen for on-off construction of big boats. Used it on a major modification of an 85 footer in Belize, also designed a 65' trawler that way in 1982. Very fast construction and very strong. Seeman has gotten pretty big and no longer sells the material direct, but there are boatyards that do.

    Details on the how-to here:
    http://smalltridesign.com/Trimaran-Articles/Construction-Methods/c-flex-boat-construction.html

    You can buy the product from this dealer: http://www.sintesfiberglass.com/id71.html
     
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  13. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    u4ea32, The original poster is interested in considerably more then a one off mold. As to cost of a limited run, production mold, well this is dependent on so many factors, that any estimate isn't valid without considerably more information about the project, where it will be built, etc.

    If you want to use a lot of resin (several times more then a single skin one off) and fair your brains out, then C-flex is the stuff to use. The result is also very heavy, considering what it is.
     
  14. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    "All builders" ???? How many ? 1 or 2 ?

    Shape ? define shape. I bet a mould for a yacht with full 'tumble-home' has a big impact on mould price. Also, hull add-ons like spray lines, strakes, protrusions for hatch and window entry, add a lot of labour cost to finish.

    " .... the cost of the one off mold was so cheap .... "

    That might be the case when compared to the overall boat cost, but it certainly cant be for the hull production phase. It just doesnt make sense. If say, a 30ft hull takes 4 weeks to make a mould - is that going to be for free ? It might be a small fraction of the overall yacht cost, but it isnt nothing.

    What comes out of a horses mouth needs to be considered carefully.
     

  15. u4ea32
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    u4ea32 Senior Member

    Par, production tooling is VERY expensive. In today's economy, probably a bad idea for just about any boat project. There are so many bankrupt companies with tooling available from the bankruptcy trustee...

    Rwatson, I talked to 14 builders in 9 countries (maybe I'm forgetting some). Each is still in business, and you probably have heard of each of them: Schooner Creek, Dencho, Westerley Marine, Lyman Morse, Green Marine, Franklin (NZ), Robertson & Caine (RSA), etc. Every one said the same thing with respect to shape having essentially zero impact on cost, and the one-off mold being essentially free.

    They also all said the same thing, that designers are always offering some shape or design feature as being a way to reduce cost (developable surfaces, hull-deck connections, ...), and that in fact those details just get lost in the noise. Design it as beautiful as you want it. Let the builders decide how to build it.

    The time to build a 50 foot mold is a few days, a few guys, for a male or female mold. Not free, but basically irrelevant.

    Consider that a one-off mold is built of CNC cut particle board covered with door skins, bondo, a layer of glass. Its really only the fairness of the shape that matters (and thats handled by the CNC cutting from your Rhino or whatever CAD files), its not dependent on woodworking skill and workmanship. Its all just too easy, FAR easier than building a wooden structure, or the very heavy and massively reinforced structures of high rate production tooling.

    Sure, add ons cost money, and lots of little things add together to be a big bill. But the add ons that really affect the cost are mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, heating, and cooling systems. Not so much the appearance related stuff.

    A NZ builder perhaps put it best: "For your own boat, do what I do: I don't start building until I can't find anything else to leave out."

    That's pretty much the same message I got from every builder. Simplify and minimize the systems, don't try and save money by designing ugly.

    Oh: regarding hatches. Several builders showed me how they construct flush hatches. It can be cheaper than buying production aluminum hatches. They just make a mold in 15 minutes on a table, laminate them up, glass them in. The mold consists of blocks of foam or half round moldings, with some filler to make things smooth with proper fillets. Watching these guys at work making one off custom molds every few minutes, its like watching children with play doh. Builders have really figured out lots of ways to do seemingly difficult things very quickly & cheaply, while being light, strong, and reliable.

    I always try and find people smarter and more experienced than me. I only consider boat builders that know a lot more than me about building boats. Not hard to find ;-)
     
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