The team at Falcon HQ have been conducting long-term research into the ‘great debate’ since their inception in 1985. Boats have been tested in harsh environments including various climates, commercial uses and racing.
Through this research they have established that, although the quality of the fabric is important, the useable life of a tube is, in most cases, not determined by the fabric but by the durability of the seams.
More modern fabrics and construction techniques have emerged over recent years, the most important one being the introduction of ‘welding’ or thermo-bonding.
Falcon RIBs is focussed on producing the best quality rigid inflatable boats, produced in a cost effective manor to the highest of safety and quality standards. Their aim is to provide customers with many years of hassle free boating.
Facts about Hypalon
Hypalon was developed more than 40 years ago. It is seen as a superior fabric to most, mainly due to its durability when exposed to the elements. It is also more tolerant to under-inflated operation, and very good a resisting chemical attack.
The downside is that currently, Hypalon tubes are constructed using glued seams, the only option available. A not so commonly known fact is that deterioration of a Hypalon tube over time shows that glue will be the first point of failure. Not the fabric. General lifespan in an average climate is about 10-12 years, whilst harsh temperatures will shorten the glued seam life to about 5 years.
Facts about General PVC
A very wide array of PVC fabrics exist – some exceed the properties of Hypalon and other falls far short. Unfortunately the majority of PVC manufacturers opt for the cheaper option, often sourced from the East at a fraction of the price of high-grade derivatives.
To understand PVC, it is important to understand that it is a form of plastic, and not rubber like Hypalon. The quality and resulting lifespan is, amongst others, determined by the grade of plasticiser used (in order to make it pliable). A ‘cheap’ plasticiser will migrate to the surface, resulting it to go tacky and turn brown, followed by it becoming brittle, and failing altogether.
It is important to note that even the lowest grades, when using glued seam construction, still have its glue seams failing long before the actual fabric. Test results have however shown that thermo-bonding a low-cost PVC dramatically increases its useable life to about 6-7 years in an average climate, and about 4-5 years in harsh conditions.
Facts about Valmex
‘Valmex’, manufactured by Mehler Texnologies in Fulda, Germany, is a blend of various high quality plastics (including some automotive-grade PVC) and the highest available grade of plasticiser. It costs about double the price of most low-cost PVCs, yet it’s still about half the going rate of Hypalon. Its useable life span as a tube fabric is very similar to Hypalon – Notably at a lower cost!
Why Falcon use Valmex
The core reasons why we opt for this fabric are:
- It can be successfully thermo-bonded
- Not a single case of fabric failure has been recorded (but we have recorded the failure of glued seams).
Falcon has been using this fabric for over 20 years. Supplying RIBS to recreational and commercial users in South and North Africa, but more predominantly Australia, Europe, the USA. In addition quite a few went to various harsh weather condition Islands like the Caribbean, Seychelles, Zanzibar, etc. Not a single case of fabric failure has been recorded! (but we have recorded the failure of glued seams)
Falcon RIBs and Thermo-bonding
Falcon introduced thermo-bonding in 2004, before then, with glued seams, the earliest reported local glue failure on a Falcon was at 8 years of age (and the fabric was still perfect). Valmex is lesser known because it is considered an ‘expensive’ fabric – we’re expecting the thermo-bonded version of Valmex tubes to exceed 12 years under normal climatic conditions.
There are a number of modern plastics available, and Falcon are constantly conducting tests to ensure maximum durability, especially in harsh climates and hard working conditions. Falcon, at this stage, are of the opinion that the quality, durability and strength of the tube seams is a limiting factor when using Hypalon.
Take a Sea Trial with Lymington Ribs
Why not see for yourself? At our lymington HQ we are proud to have a stock of Falcon Ribs for sale. Get in touch for the latest boat deals, prices and even arrange a free sea trial. Call 01590 675621 or email email@example.com