Spring 2006


Sleekcraft® and Magic® Powerboats Highlight Best Technology/Materials



From young adults to retired, life-long boaters, Sleekcraft and Magic Powerboat customers take to the water in style with one common denominator – they love their boats! With unique hull designs, meticulous rigging, quick planing, and breathtaking acceleration, these powerboats are built to handle rough water with ease. And you’ll find a large concentration of Sleeks and Magics on lakes and the Pacific Ocean along the West Coast.

Sleekcraft and Magic boats range in length from 26 to 44 feet. They are built in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, by one of the most experienced boat manufacturing teams in the industry. Hulls are offered in V-Bottom and catamaran styles, and customers choose a hard deck or an open bow boat layout. Custom gel coated graphics and boat interiors are designed based on customer desires.

The Magic 28' Deckboat is one of the more popular models. It makes boating simple. The Deckboat’s front and rear entry, open deck layout, and abundant storage capture the attention of many boaters.

The hard deck boats have very sexy lines. It takes hours and sometimes weeks to get the lines just perfect before the boats go into production.

The “Cadillac” of Boats

Magic and Sleekcraft boats are designed for highend recreation, and they happen to go fast. Very fast. “Our base power is 425 HP, and it goes up from there depending on how fast you want to go,” says Plant Manager Mike Lee.

An all-around favorite, the Magic Scepter 28' deckboat maximizes driving fun.

Big sound systems, plenty of storage and seating, easy access to controls, and easy handling make “fun, fast, and family” the mantras for Magic and Sleekcraft. Driving one is like driving a Cadillac®; with all the amenities these boats offer, everyone is comfortable.

Their exterior designs are extreme and receive plenty of attention both on and off the water.

Process Improvements for Better Products, Cleaner Environments

The differences among RTM, Light RTM, and VIP can be confusing. Here is a brief description of each for your reference. Please contact your NAC representative for a thorough explanation.

Resin Transfer Molding

(RTM): The RTM process begins with a two-part, matched, closed mold that is made of metal or composite material. A core material is added to the closed mold, and then, using metering equipment, catalyzed resin is pumped under low pressure into the mold to fully saturate the core. Low viscosity resins were once used to fully saturate the core, but now high flow core materials are used to allow the production process to utilize filled resins. One of the high flow core materials offered is Polymat® Hi-Flow™, which NAC distributes exclusively. It has shown superior flow with highly filled resins.

Light RTM (LRTM):

One of the fastest growing processes is Light RTM. The core materials are placed in a one-sided mold, and a cover of rigid or flexible material is placed over the top of the mold to create a vacuum tight seal. The catalyzed resin enters the mold through strategically placed ports and is drawn through the core by pulling a vacuum. Rather than using positive pressure to saturate the core, the use of a vacuum allows the fabricator to make low(er) cost parts. It is also possible to produce large, complex parts inexpensively with one shot. The fiber content of this process can reach as high as 60 percent with uniform resin distribution. Using rapid cure resins can reduce cycle times from what used to take days for hand lay-up to just hours or even minutes with LRTM.

Vacuum Infusion Process (VIP):

With VIP, reinforcements are stacked onto a male mold surface, and then a thin plastic vacuum bag is sealed around the part’s perimeter. A vacuum pump pulls a slight vacuum on the part to consolidate the dry materials and create a vacuum cavity. Catalyzed resin is then introduced into the mold through feed lines that are placed in strategic areas. The pressure difference in the cavity pushes the resin through the dry materials until the part is completely saturated. The vacuum is kept on the part until the part is cured.

Outstanding Quality and Performance

According to Lee, Magic and Sleekcraft owners keep coming back due to the excellent quality built into every boat. “We use the best composite raw materials for the fit because quality is everything to us,” he says. Interplastic Corporation’s CoREZYN® low HAP vinyl ester resin and Vectorply® E-glass reinforcement are used to deliver their high-quality laminates. The materials combination is important for boats like Magic and Sleekcraft brands, which are trailered, beached, docked, run at high speeds, and used in rough waters.

Premium Materials

Vinyl esters are more expensive than polyester resins, but they provide unbeatable laminate physical properties and performance characteristics that demanding use requires. Boats manufactured with vinyl esters are more durable over time. Their hulls can absorb normal amounts of impact better. They can flex longer and more easily over their lifespans without cracking compared to hulls made with polyester resins.

In addition, vinyl ester resins present the best defense against blistering and delamination. Interplastic’s testing and case studies demonstrate far superior performance and blister resistance from boats built with their CoREZYN vinyl ester resins.

Vectorply’s E-glass is a knitted, high-strength reinforcement specified for many marine applications. All Magic and Sleekcraft models are hand laminated using Vectorply reinforcements in a carefully engineered laminate schedule.

Light RTM and Vacuum Infusion Arriving

Sleekcraft and Magic are devoted to continuous research and development with the goal of releasing at least one new model annually. Last year, Magic/Sleekcraft switched to a low HAP version of their CoREZYN vinyl ester and began evaluating different manufacturing techniques. “Emissions compliance started this change, but we have already taken it to the next level by building boats that are stronger and increasing our efficiencies,” claims Lee. “It’s a win-win.”

Magic/Sleekcraft boats are manufactured using hand lay-up and vacuum bagging. Now they are testing Light Resin Transfer Molding (LRTM) on small parts such as hatches, consoles, doors, etc. LRTM is a closed mold system whereby resin is injected into the mold and then pulled via vacuum through a flow medium. The flow medium aids the saturation of the resin in the reinforcement, which eliminates air pockets or dry spots that can compromise the finished quality of the laminate.

The Vacuum Infusion Process (VIP) will be used on decks and hulls. Similar to LRTM, VIP is also a closed mold system where the resin is pulled through the reinforcement, but it does not require a flow medium. It provides an excellent glass-to-resin ratio, which translates to a very lightweight and strong composite.

LRTM and VIP provide a number of benefits. Existing molds can be remodeled instead of scrapped. Styrene emissions are captured and contained, which helps manufacturers remain in compliance with EPA standards. The cost savings garnered by the reduction of materials waste and labor is typically how the process pays for itself. Consistent finished parts quality as well as further reductions of scrap, over-building, and rework make these manufacturing techniques very attractive.

Magic and Sleekcraft are still evaluating prototype techniques and materials. According to Lee, they will undoubtedly keep using CoREZYN vinyl ester resin. However, an Interplastic vinyl ester infusion resin that has the appropriate molding and physical properties will be used for LRTM and infusion. “The boats manufactured with LRTM and infusion must prove as durable as or even more durable than what our customers are used to,” he says.

David Tierney, NAC Sales Manager, is instrumental in helping the Magic/Sleekcraft staff evaluate the various products needed for the manufacturing changes. “I work with Brad Curd, who is the Interplastic Sales Representative on resin recommendations and evaluations for Magic/Sleekcraft,” says Tierney. “He coordinates everything with Interplastic’s laboratory staff to aid the research and development of the resins Magic/Sleekcraft want for existing and new products. Plus, he birddogs their manufacturing schedules to ensure Magic/Sleekcraft deliveries are on time.”

Tierney is also the conduit between Magic/ Sleekcraft and Vectorply, which has been a key player in the selection of the appropriate reinforcement to use with LRTM and vacuum infusion.

“Sleekcraft/Magic also uses Plexus® structural adhesives, and we’re working together to evaluate different products for bonding metal to fiberglass. It’s a fun account to work with,” says Tierney. “They are always looking into the future to stay ahead of the next market need. It’s challenging and interesting.”

The Magic 30' deckboat has an open seating arrangement that is perfect for entertaining on the water.

The changeover to LRTM on small parts and infusion on their hulls will evolve over time, according to Lee. They have done some vacuum bagging on the cores, so in some ways, he says the transition to LRTM and infusion will not be as difficult. Many of their older molds are not closed mold conducive; however, Lee says they have five models targeted to change immediately.

Overall, they don’t expect the changes in materials and processes to significantly reduce manufacturing costs. “We’ll increase our efficiencies, lower emissions, and provide a better product,” say Lee. “However, quality is paramount and nothing will be done to compromise that.”