You read that correctly. The Italian yacht builder will switch its construction method to a seemingly unusual, but proven, material. Amer Yachts is abandoning fiberglass for a volcanic fiber, Filava, for several additional reasons. The biggest: The material is recyclable. Therefore, it addresses the “end of life” issue the yachting industry is increasingly wrestling with these days.
Fiberglass started becoming the preferred boatbuilding method worldwide in the 1960s. It replaced wood due to lower production costs and its strength-to-weight ratio. While only small boats employed it at first, the 1980s and 1990s brought proof of concept to the superyacht market. Specifically, Sterling Yachts in Japan splashed Southern Cross III in 1986, measuring 180 feet (55 meters). Seven years later, Admiral Marine delivered the 161-foot (49-meter) Evivva as the largest yacht constructed in North America from a single mold.
Just as a wide variety of products have a limited usable life, so, too, do boats and yachts. Unfortunately, fiberglass is difficult to recycle. Even companies that successfully crush and repurpose fiberglass wind turbines, for example, state that hazardous dust results. A further problem: Fiberglass recycling is expensive.
Enter the brand Filava, a fiber composed of volcanic rock and minerals. Amer Yachts met the European distributor for the fiber thanks to UCINA, the Italian yachting trade organization. Amer Yachts’ management team regularly seeks more environmentally minded solutions. It was impressed with Filava due to its better strength (akin to carbon fiber, in fact), impact and fire resistance, and ease of handling. In addition, Amer Yachts was impressed with how it’s fully recyclable under current European regulations. Additionally on the subject of recycling, all manufacturing scraps and even the mold can be recycled, without degradation.
The manufacturer of Filava works with automotive and aerospace companies, as well as yacht builders. To the latter point, a 60-foot (18.28-meter) sailboat made of Filava is currently attempting a single-handed, non-stop circumnavigation through all oceans.
Amer Yachts has already signed an agreement with Filava’s European distributor to design and build a non-structural element with the material. Amer Yachts’ next superyacht will include it, in fact. The shipyard has two superyacht series, the Amer Cento, which recently saw hull 15 launch, and Amer 94. Simultaneously, the classification society RINA is working on formal approval of Filava.
Amer Yachts plans to reveal more details during the fall boat-show season.
Amer Yachts ameryachts.it