Program to boost foam export sales

Christchurch-based boat builder Butler Marine is developing a computer program to help it cut foam more accurately and boost what the company says are already promising export sales.

Christchurch-based boat builder Butler Marine is developing a computer program to help it cut foam more accurately and boost what the company says are already promising export sales.

Director John Butler says the foam is made in 1m x 2m "buns" that are 40mm thick. These are split into sheets of varying thickness, then shapes are stamped from the sheets to make things such as kickboards for teaching swimming, trampoline pads and life-jacket flotation panels.

"But there has never been a method to create profiled lengths," Butler says.

Halfway through a six-month programme, part-funded by Technology New Zealand, the company is creating complex shapes from dimensions up to 1m wide, 500mm deep and up to 7.5m in length.

This facility has enabled the company to establish a growing export business for things as diverse as head and armrest impact protection rolls for a bus manufacturer, through to patrol boat fenders for South Korean, Queensland coastguard and Australian pilot boats, Butler says.

Butler was not keen on providing technical details of the software.

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