Aluminum Boats Prove Their Mettle

Aluminum has been used in the marine industry for more than 100 years because of its light weight and ease of fabrication combined with good corrosion and fatigue resistance. However,for much of the past 30 years, fiberglass has been the material of choice of North American
boatbuilders, particularly for higher-volume production lines. Competitively priced compared with boats made from most other materials,fiberglass boats can also be made from standardized molds that reduce their construction time and labor.

Additionally, the claim has been made that fiberglass boats are “maintenance-free.” However, as more has come to be understood about delamination, blistering, leaks, and problems associated with structural fatigue, this claim has proved to be untrue. Aluminum alloys, which are specified for marine use, suffer from none of these problems. Their high level of performance along with recent advances in aluminum cutting and welding is helping to reduce fiberglass’ boats cost advantage, and the metal’s utility for a wide range of boatbuilding applications is poised for reappraisal.

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