Liquidlogic Research and Development has always been about developing boats and gear that we would want to use. The fact that everyone in R&D paddles, and many of us paddle hard whitewater, gives us strong motivation to make great kayaks. We consider our home river to be the Green River Narrows; the perfect structural and durability testing grounds for many of our kayak designs. The Team LL Paddlers play a huge role in the R&D process as they are out there day in and day out pushing the limits of what kayaks can do. Take a closer look into the LL R&D Team and what’s new below.
RotoLab: The Rotational Molding Laboratory
Welcome to liquidlogic’s rotational molding laboratory, better known as RotoLab. RotoLab is liquidlogic’s “top secret”, state-of-the-art testing laboratory. We test all products and materials under the sun (no pun intended!), and under fluorescent lights. RotoLab analyzes incoming raw materials and components, develops and monitors processing parameters, scientifically evaluates finished kayaks, and tests kayaks in some creative ways. liquidlogic selects the highest quality plastic and components available and processes them to a standard above any other company. We pride ourselves on being leaders of innovation, development, certification and quality maintenance.
The Science Behind LiquidLogic Kayaks
In-House & River Testing
Monitoring our molding process prior to the finished product has allowed us to exceed our supplier’s published polymer strengths by 30%.
How are we able to determine this you ask?
We strictly monitor all of our high tech rotational molding ovens, molds, processes, and materials. We use a high temperature profiling system that allows us to follow an intense series of combinations and experimentation. Our engineered polymer design requires specific cooking and cooling methods to ensure the best mechanical strengths. Great efforts go into maintaining consistent, repeatable, and reliable plastics. Monitoring our oven and cooling cycles allow us to exceed our supplier’s polymer strengths by 30% as determined through the use of destructive mechanical in-house and field analyses.
Dart impact testing allows us to evaluate the impact strengths and toughness of our plastic. We use the dart impact to determine the amount of impact that may be applied to our finished product when placed on the river with our customers. In testing, we consider the effects of various environmental factors, including temperature. Our favorite testing method uses destructive mechanical in-house testing. In-house product testing subjects plastic to -40 Celsius. This is all based on the time and temperature at which we cook and cool our plastic.
Dart impact also allows us to study our plastic for abnormalities to better provide you with the best plastic in the market. Consequently, we have a library of archived data that will help us provide you with the best customer service if there are ever materials not performing to our standards.
The Pull Bar is a test performed to simulate what a typical bar, the hull plastic, and the insert may be subjected to during a real life rescue. This is a threefold analysis that simulates a swift water rescue. A force is applied downward to the boat, while another force is applied upward to the grab handle. The plastic and the grab handle are held together by a strong force, specifically, a specialized and custom insert. We measure the amount of net force being applied to the boat. The results have allowed us to make the best choices regarding parts we use and the boat creation processes. Ultimately, the plastic is cured to its optimum mechanical strength with an added superior grab handle backed by custom made inserts and we have a product that withstands forces stronger than any boat on the market, more importantly, a reliable boat during a swiftwater rescue.
Laboratory results and Field experiments. This drop testing goes hand in hand with nature’s unpredictable force. This is a mechanical energy that can not be controlled or can not account for all variables. The unforeseen and variable outcomes can influence whether your boat can withstand impact forces taking sudden impacts at places like “go left and die”. These results, although hard to measure impact forces, can help us gauge environmental measures.
After the in-house testing has been completed and we feel confident with our results, liquidlogic’s employees are given the opportunity to take the product out and test it in our very own backyard. The Environmental sample design experiment is measured on ultra low volume. The data collected is then compared to our control experiment, our in-house mechanical impact analysis.
The data collected is based on the amount of time spent on the water, cfs, and the potential energy of impact applied. Our data collected is based on subjecting our material to the most extreme and varied cases. Even if our results are acceptable in-house but the experimental results are poor, we will re-design our experiments. We allow these trials to continue from several weeks and up to two years before determining the plastic is certifiable.
Once we have collected all of the information on our post-river trials and are confident in a well-developed sampling design, a sound, science-based decision is founded on the data collected and is then ready to be certified and released to you.
Raw Material Inspection
Our system of inspection, quality, and care sets our plastic apart from others in the industry.
What makes us unique is our full gamut of quality control processes. Our process begins as soon as the raw resin comes through our doors, where we inspect each box. We look for consistency in pigment color, dry flow, bulk density, and test for contamination prior to releasing the resin into production. Using a standard system for grading and approval, each box can be traced to an individual batch from the original manufacturer in the event of any future problems.
Currently, we are partnered with the dominant resin supplier to the whitewater kayak industry. When we first met with them, they had engineered an acceptable polymer for plastic kayaks; we helped them further develop a series that could withstand substantial environmental impacts and allowing us to push the limits in whitewater kayaking. After 15 years of constant research and progression, we feel a strong commitment to maintaining the most durable kayaks in the industry. We achieve the goal of providing the best and highest quality of kayaks by using our specific Quality Control processes, which include the following:
All our resin is traceable by a unique identification number. Traceability is a key element. We feel it is in your best interest and ours to track our material as this allows us to monitor every batch of resin for the lifetime of your kayak.
Every box of resin goes through an intense inspection process. Resin is extracted from every resin box using a core sampling tool. An aliquot is drawn and analyzed ensuring every box of resin will produce a consistent product.
Microscopy Analysis is completed to assure correct particle size and shape, homogeneous pigment distribution, and free from cross-contamination. We can also troubleshoot ”Go CIA” on any issues involving premature failure.
Analyzing pigment distribution is important. If the pigment of the resin isn’t distributed evenly in the manufacturing process, it may cause premature failures in the kayak and will produce a kayak (less than optimal ) that is not as strong as it could be.
The homogeneity of our resin is equally distributed throughout a part. Specific resin particle shapes and sizes are necessary for plastic distribution. This is just one way we are able to produce the strongest kayak. Each tiny polymer consists of a specific formula when manufactured
Another method is by taking a cross-section of plastic by use of microtome and analyzing the structure of the molded plastic throughout the thickness. During the processing of polyethylene it is extremely important to eliminate any contamination. Any contamination can disrupt the cohesion of our polymers.