Total control, from R&D to the finishing touches
Since the acquisition and integration of Incidence Technologies in 2013, Incidence has had an impressive and unified design office and produces its own membranes.
With this capacity for analysis, testing and production, Incidence sailmakers are now complete masters of the entire process of the design and manufacture of its sails: from R&D to the finishing touches.
This unique ability has been a key offering for two years and means it can now unveil DFi® its new filamentary membrane."Having the production laboratory of the D4® at our disposal allowed us to work freely and to perform all the tests we needed to for our research ..."
A continuous quest for the sails of the future
The development of DFi® is the first major innovation of the Incidence Technologies team, and there is much more to come.
Part of the design office is continuing to explore evry possible way to further optimise DFI® and adapt it to all offshore racing boats, as well as long-distance cruising yachts.
The other members of the design office continue the background research work. Their work is based on aerodynamics and finite element modeling software, with wind tunnel testing. These studies and analyses complement each other and enable them to improve and project the sails of the future.
Two high-level, complementary teams
- A team of sail-designers and engineers.
- A membrane production team.
Two R&D missions
- To develop and optimise new materials.
- To carry out pure research using digital analysis: digital simulations, fluid modeling and wind tunnel testing.
The daily routine
- The engineering team researches and develops.
- The production workshop produces the membranes, which are then sent to the sail lofts, in La Rochelle or Brest, for all the finishing touches.
The D4 membrane is designed to meet the performance requirements, but also keeps shape and lightness. In one design as on super or maxi yachts, the D4 meets the expectations of all sailors, but ocean sailors also prefer the reliability, and the look of this membrane.
The D4 technology was acquired by Groupe Incidence in 2013 and has been developed by Incidence Technologies for nearly two years.
Sails are never subjected to consistent tension. It is on this basis that the principle of the D4 was developed, consisting of fibres placed where the greatest forces are applied to the sail. The draftsman determines the placement of these fibres depending on the forces that will be applied on the sail during navigation. Additionally he will choose which components and fibres are the most suitable for the membrane (carbon, aramid, Dyneema, Vectran) according to the sailing programme taking place, and will combine films or taffetas of varying thickness, always depending on the sailing specifications.
The films are put on the floor in order to apply the fibres, and are covered with an adhesive film. A machine with a placement head that can hold up to 18 fibres places the pre-glued fibres, which are then dried.
Next, a second film is placed on top to complete a "sandwich", which is then vacuum sealed, heated and subjected to several tons of weight. This rolling process creates the durability of the membrane.
Finally, the sail then goes through a ten day drying process, at which stage it acquires its dimensional hold.
The Incidence Technologies team has sicceeded in developing a new material: DFi®.
This filamentary membrane is made of pre-impregnated composite strips laid out along very precise non-parallel lines to carry the primary and secondary loads exerted on the sail during sailing. The pre-impregnated strips are laid and laminated on a flat table. They are vacuum and then hot pressed (under more than 6 bars of pressure), and then joined* together with a recyclable, solvent-free thermoplastic resin.
As with the D4 Premium, the membrane is manufactured in a single operation. It is then shaped on the floors of the Incidence sail lofts.
* The whole piece is completely enclosed between sheets of polymerised plastic.
A close-up of DFi®
Michel DesjoyeauxDouble winner of the Vendée Globe
"To celebrate its 20-year anniversary, Genie of the Lamp has treated itself to a new DFi® sail wardrobe. The result has lived up to our expectations. Our joint teamwork is the outcome of a commited 5-year partnership."
Nicolas Marchand Manager of super yacht Genie of the Lamp