How KAPE boats are made?
We are truly proud to say that each KAPE Canoes & Kayaks that can be seen on the water since 1989, were all manufactured next to Szeged, Hungary by a team of experts led by György Kabai. Though we do our best to keep up with the technical achievements of 21st century, we still consider ourselves as craftsmen, and we view our boats not just as products but as handicraft sports equipments. As manufacturers, it is no problem to show you around our workshop for a brief insight into the manufacturing process.
State of the art canoes and kayaks - regardless of they are made for competitions or recreational purposes - are made by composite materials or composites as they are called in general. These joined materials let the manufacturer to improve the advantages (eg. hardness) and to reduce the disadvantages (eg. fragility, sensibility to heat) of their basic components. Applying these composites the mechanical properties of the boat can be easily adjusted during the manufacturing process and the finished product will satisfy even the strict requirements of top athletes.
The manufacturing process
For manufacturing a boat the prime material of the composite should be some sort of synthetic resin: we use polyester and vinylester. Their second material - the reinforcement - is some kind of non-woven or woven fabrics. These mostly made up by glass, aramid (Kevlar) or carbon fibres. During the construction we "place together" these components into a mold on which a layer of colored gelcoat is sprayed before. This process is called the lamination, and the results are referred as laminates. The hull and deck of the boats are laminated separately.
Assembling and fitting
After the materials are hardened the upper and the lower parts are assembled and bonded. Then we equip the boat by all the previously made fittings (eg. seat, rudder and footrest) and make their settings as the costumer prefers. The final step is the polishing and the end control
We always put great efforts into the improvement of our manufacturing technologies. Benchmarking the constantly developing composite industry we seek up-to-date yet affordable production methods. However the production of a composite boat is a very complex process, the following basic production methods are used in our workshop
The simplest and most traditional way to construct composite laminates. This is how the resin and the fiber clothes "put together" inside the mold manually. Sheets of fiberglass (or other clothes) are placed into the mold, drenched with resin and rolled down to its surface by steel rollers. The material have to fit tightly, otherwise air could be trapped between the laminates and the mold.
Boats of STANDARD construction (with only fiberglass reinforcement) need no other process until hardening.
Vacuum bag moulding
Except of the boats in STANDARD construction all our canoes & kayaks are made by vacuum technology.
During this process a two-sided mold is used where a vacuum bag provide the upper side. The vacuum bag is made of strong, slightly elastic foil. After laying up the materials the mold is put into the bag. Its one side is closed and the another one is opened through a nipple. Through this a vacuum pump draws out the air, creating vacuum inside the bag. This results a uniform distribution of resin tightly merged with the reinforcement materials
Vacuum infusion or resin infusion is a way of resin transfer moulding (RTM). During this we use the pressure inside a vacuum bag to inject resin through the previously dryly laminated materials. During vacuum infusion the amount of the resin is totally under control, and the formation of air bubbles inside the composite materials are completely preventable.
Our raw material suppliers are the leading manufacturers and distributors on the European composite market. Together with their engineers we always seek for the latest material solutions that suit the most for these special sport equipments. The accurate material selection and layer design - for each boat in each construction level - are based on our experience of more than two and a half decades.