The story of how Weld Mount (eventually) seized Europe…
Fourteen years ago in a garage in Long Island, New York, a structural adhesive bonding business was founded by an avid recreational boater who saw the potential of avoiding leaks by adhesively bonding fasteners to the hulls of boats. This company was Weld Mount – a leading US innovator, which came from humble beginnings.
The boater’s name was David Estabrook. After working in the Nuclear and bonding industry for some time, David began to realise that the concept of structural adhesive bonding could be very helpful in marine applications. The company he was with at the time had pioneered this system within the Aerospace and Military fields, but he knew that it had wider applicability. So David took a gamble and quit his job to start this new venture. He said: “I knew that this adhesive was a winning and potentially industry-changing idea.” And it paid off. Today, Weld Mount’s Customers include companies such as Viking Yachts, Westport Yachts and Fountain Pajot.
The company has expanded over the years to add many different fasteners to its repertoire. What makes Weld Mount’s offering different to other methods of attachment in the yacht marketplace is that the structural adhesive bonding eliminates the danger of delamination due to water intrusion. David explains this core idea further, saying: “It is the ideal method for mounting components to the hull or decks of cored fibreglass boats, as it means there is no need to drill holes into the core. This avoids any danger of water seeping through and damaging the vessel.”
Because these adhesively bonded fasteners can replace mechanical fasteners, as well as assembly techniques such as soldering and welding, drilling and tapping, they can also provide significant cost and weight savings. And the fasteners, combined with industrial acrylic adhesives with tensile strength of up to 1500 Kilos per sq. cm, are as strong if not stronger than welding.
This method also realises a lot of other benefits. Stress point concentrations are eliminated by the even distribution of stress over the entire bonded surface, plus the improved load bearing capacity. Fatigue resistance is improved, as well as resistance to shock, vibration, and thermal cycling over mechanical or welded assemblies. And very importantly to the yachting world, appearances are enhanced because protrusions, punctures, and attachments are eliminated. Indeed, David found that in many cases, there was no need for any visual fasteners when using his method.
Because of these advantages, though Weld Mount products were developed for the marine industry and it remains very committed to serving yachts, its expertise has now spread to other markets such as automotive and petrochemical. It has also geographically spread a lot further than Long Island since its founding. Since 2004 Weld Mount has supplied its adhesive fastening system to OEMs and distributors across the USA and in Europe. Then, in 2016, Weld Mount Systems was acquired by global sealant manufacturer Royal Adhesive and Sealants. Royal has since been acquired by H.B. Fuller Company. The new owner will continue to invest in and develop innovative Weld Mount products.
Difficulties in finding appropriate European distributors had meant that Weld Mount’s products were not as available or as well-known in Europe as they could have been. Luckily, at the end of last year, end-to-end marine provider Koemmerling announced itself to be Europe’s official new source for Weld Mount products, available through its network of distributors.
As a partner-based company, Koemmerling bases itself around the idea of growing with its affiliates. Its core values of solidity, reliability, and experience suit the Weld Mount brand. And as Koemmerling’s Head of Product Management, Dr. Knut Göke explains, though the company offers a widely diversified range of systems, these systems are always united by one goal: to provide a creative solution tailored specifically to a need, no matter how niche this need may be. This fits in very well with the needs of the yachting industry, where custom solutions are always in high demand.
With this product now widely available in Europe through such a trusted distributor, the big question is whether we will see a significant decline in mechanical fasteners on yachts, as well as in assembly techniques such as soldering and welding, drilling and tapping. Only time will tell, but benefits such as eliminating water intrusion, lowering cost and weight and strengthened mounting solutions seem likely to sway the European market towards Weld Mount products once and for all.
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