Gathering information on marine construction and repair materials has never been easier with the recently launched WEST SYSTEM website providing a whole range of easy to access answers.
by Tracey Johnstone
Take a tour around the site and the reader will be impressed by the extent of information available to assist marine professionals and amateurs alike looking to use a WEST SYSTEM product.
The new website includes information on all the products in the WEST SYSTEM range including down-loadable data sheets, information on basic techniques for using the products, mechanical property information, and Project Data Files on both amateur and professional projects built in Australia with WEST SYSTEM brand products.
WEST SYSTEM brand R epoxy is a versatile, high-quality, two-part system specifically developed for the marine industry. It is used for construction and repairs requiring superior moisture resistance and high strength, and has been internationally marketed for over 33 years.
Gold Coast- based ATL Composites has been manufacturing WEST SYSTEM brand epoxy products in New Zealand and Australia, under licence to USA’s Gougeon Brothers Inc, since 1977. The new WEST SYSTEM website is an innovation of ATL’s head office.
ATL’s Lorraine Duckworth explains 'the West System product is particularly good for amateur construction and for people who are doing their own repairs and maintenance. We thought they needed more information that would be easy for them to access on the internet.' Enter the website and the reader will find it easy to move through each section as they learn more about the WEST SYSTEM products.
First on the menu is the list of WEST SYSTEM products – Resin and Hardeners, Dispensing Pumps, Fillers and Additives. With each section of the Products sub-menu the visitor will be able to read a short introductory note on the product range before taking a further look at the product specifics including a down-loadable data sheet.
For example, the ATL technicians say, start with the 105 Resin which is the basic ingredient of all WEST SYSTEM epoxy compounds. It is a low viscosity, solvent free liquid epoxy resin. Formulated for use with WEST SYSTEM hardeners, it can be cured in a wide temperature range to form a high-strength solid with excellent moisture resistance. R105 resin is designed specifically to wet -out and bond with wood-fibre, fibreglass, reinforcing fabrics and a variety of metals when mixed at the correct ratio with a WEST SYSTEM hardener.
An excellent adhesive, R105 mixtures will bridge gaps and fills voids when modified with WEST SYSTEM fillers and can be sanded and shaped when cured. With roller applications, it has excellent thin-film characteristics to flow out and self-level.
Still need more information on the R105 ? Then download one or more of the freely available information pages - data sheets, engineering data sheet and shelf-life data sheet.
'For professional builders, the data sheets provide information on mechanical properties such as strength, elongation and modulus, to enable the correct choice of products for their application.
'With the amateurs, the data sheets give them instructions on how to use the products, how they would expect it to perform, and a better understanding of the product. The sheets also include health and safety information so if they have a spill they will know what to do and who they need to contact,' Duckworth says.
In the Publications section the visitor can access a number of valuable publications. Leading this section is the User Manual. The manual provides information about safety, handling and the basic techniques of epoxy use. Understanding these basic techniques will allow the user to tailor WEST SYSTEM products to their exact repair and construction needs. The manual also includes a Problem Solver that will help identify and prevent potential problems associated with using epoxy.
For each of the six sections of the User Manual – Wooden Boat Restoration and Repair, Fibreglass Boat Repair and Maintenance, Gelcoat Blisters: Diagnosis, Repair and Prevention, Final Fairing and Finishing, Vacuum Bagging Techniques, and Other Uses – the visitor can download for free comprehensive and well-illustrated information.
Moving down the menu the visitor comes to the Basic Techniques section.
The technical man says (1) start with 105 Resin, the basic ingredient of all WEST SYSTEM epoxy compounds. Use 301 Dispensing Pumps for convenient and accurate metering; (2) mix with one of four WEST SYSTEM Hardeners. Select a hardener for its intended use and for the cure speed best suited for you job in the temperature range in which you are working; and (3) add one of three WEST SYSTEM Fillers to thicken the mixture as needed. Select a filler for its handling characteristics or cured physical properties, or add one of four WEST SYSTEM additives to provide specific coating properties.
Seems simple ? Well it is, if the visitor uses the tips and data information available in this part of the website. This information ranges from epoxy safety, clean up, epoxy chemistry, dispensing and mixing, adding filters and additives, surface preparation, bonding, fairing, applying fibreglass and tapes, epoxy barrier coating, to final surface preparation and final coatings.
For the professional builder ATL Composites says WEST SYSTEM brand epoxy products have been used successfully worldwide for more than 30 years in new construction and repairs requiring superior moisture resistance and high strength. The professional fabricator can be confident of consistent, repeatable results in performance and handling characteristics that will ensure high quality parts and higher production rates.
The website provides technical information on fatigue, cold temperature bonding, moisture exclusion effectiveness and creep rupture.
Technical support to the professional builder is available by phone, email, or on-site construction and process support through ATL’s experienced professional team.
The WEST SYSTEM brand products are also suitable for use by amateurs. Duckworth says 'WEST SYSTEM products are widely used by amateur builders for new construction, and also people wanting to do their own repairs and maintenance.
In the Amateur section the visitor can find examples of how the products have been used in amateur projects as well as a fact sheet on gel coat repairs.
For amateurs ATL says the products are an easily used chemistry set that gives the amateur the ability to tailor the epoxy mixture to meet the project's specific needs. By using a simple ‘cookbook’ approach they can tailor the handling characteristics and the physical properties of the cured epoxy to suit their working conditions and the coating or bonding requirements of the project.
Duckworth says ATL will continue to upgrade and update the user-friendly Australian WEST SYSTEM website. 'The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section will be updated on a regular basis. Also, we publish the Epoxy Works newsletter each quarter. We will also be adding to the project data files for both the professional and amateur projects so that people can see how other people have used the products, where they have been used and what other types of things they can do with it.'
The new WEST SYSTEM site also includes a comprehensive list of dealers throughout Australia and New Zealand, and contacts for distributors of the Australian-made WEST SYSTEM brand products in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and the Philippines.
For those in the marine industry, whether a professional builder or an amateur, the WEST SYSTEM website is well worth a visit.
And, if you are visiting next month’s Sanctuary Cove Boat Show (22nd to 25th May), you can find the ATL/WES
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2:47 AM Tue 15 Apr 2008 GMT
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