Apr 20th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Evaluation of a Weldable Zipper System for AIRE/Outcast Boats Inc.

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Amy Moll


AIRE/Outcast Boats, Inc., located in Meridian, ID, manufactures high quality inflatable watercraft used for industrial, government, and sporting purposes. The watercraft shells are made of a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coated 1670 denier polyester base fabric. As part of the assembly process, AIRE uses a polymer thermal welding process to create stitchless PVC – PVC seams capable of withstanding pressures in excess of 500 psi. To allow access to the interior air cells, the final closure consists of two #10 zippers stitched in tandem, then double stitched to the body of the watercraft. Stitching the closing zipper system is a time and labor intensive step in the manufacturing process. AIRE would like to explore the concept of a thermally weldable zipper to improve manufacturing speed and efficiency. The objective of our Senior Design project is to research and test various means of thermally welding a single #20 zipper as the closing mechanism for AIRE rafts. Options evaluated were: 1) implementing a coating process that can be applied to existing zippers, 2) finding a company that is capable of supplying a coating, or 3) coiling a zipper directly to the PVC material in-house. This poster presents the most promising solution based on results of mechanical testing, effectiveness of method, and processing efficiency.