CAD design of hulls

It all started with a 3D design of the hulls by the Hulls and Systems team. This year, our team decided to use a trimaran (3 hulls) hull design to improve boat stability.

Hull preparation

We then prepared the hulls by using a carbon fiber vacuum resin infusion process. Each demi-hull was fabricated using a machine-milled high-density foam mold produced for the team by the Ford Motor Company.

Breaking mold

Once ready, we carefully broke open the molds containing the hulls.

Trimming hulls

Next, we trimmed the hulls. As there was a lot of carbon fiber dust involved in the trimming process, we wore respirators and worked at a special area of the Wilson Center, periodically using a vacuum to remove the dust.

Boat frame

To build the boat frame, we first measured and cut carbon fiber tubes (real-life application of trigonometry). We then used resin to stick the tubes together, using Zip Ties and G‑Clamps to hold them together, and left it for a few days for the resin to harden.

Plywood boat deck

We then worked on cutting out our plywood boat deck.

Stick hulls

And on attaching the boat hulls to the frame using more resin.

Boat fell apart

… Then it all fell apart. Resin wasn’t strong enough to hold the boat structure together so we had to think of another method.

Drill and bolt

Our solution? We drilled holes through the carbon fiber tubes and bolted them to other tubes, to the hulls and to the deck.

The results? A sturdy boat. :)

Electrical box

Finally, we attached our electrical box and thrusters to our boat.

Clean workspace

After cleaning our workspace, we were good to go test our boat!

Questions, comments, or concerns? Email us at umautonomy@umich.edu.