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2015 RINA – QinetiQ Maritime Innovation Award

The Maritime Innovation Award, which is presented in conjunction with QinetiQ to an individual or organisation,  recognises outstanding scientific or technological research in the areas of hydrodynamics, propulsion, structures and material, and which offers the potential to make significant improvements in the design, construction and operation of marine vessels and structures. The 2015 Award was presented to Magma Structures.

Magma Structures

In 2015 Magma Structures built and delivered the world’s tallest, carbon composite, free-standing masts for a private superyacht. The three masts are in excess of 90m and represent a step change in the design and manufacture of light-weight, highly technical free-standing structures. These masts are much larger than anything currently in build, including the current generation of wind turbine blades, and with much higher bending loads.  Despite their height, each cantilevered freestanding mast weighs around 50 tonnes and together the three masts support a sail area greater than a standard sized football pitch.  They are able to rotate, adding to the complexity of design, and are fully automated in terms of sail deployment, sail setting and sail reefing. Each  rig is embedded with hundreds of fibre optic sensors to give real-time, comprehensive load data on all aspects of the rig as well as safety warnings, historical data, condition monitoring and information to optimise sailing performance. This data is invaluable in verifying the design concepts of the rigs and giving load case data to minimize the maintenance requirements.

Magma Structures developed, tested, design and built the masts using advanced composite manufacturing processes. The masts took three and half years to engineer and build and were stepped onto the private Sailing Superyacht ‘A’ in the autumn of 2015. Over 70 people worked on the build of the rigs, including an in-house team of naval architects, design engineers, mechanical engineers, FEA specialists and composite experts together with a workforce skilled in composite manufacturing.

The rigs are amongst the most technically challenging free-standing carbon composite structures to have been manufactured due to their size, design load requirements and the marine environment in which they will be used. The skills developed and experience gained from building these rigs are already having a direct impact on innovative composite projects being developed in other sectors including marine and maritime, defence, oil and gas, bridges and buildings, where the benefits of manufacturing in composites can be significant.

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