For 15 years Naviline has built and supplied interiors for leading French boatbuilders such as Bénéteau, Dufour, and Jeanneau. Now part of the European Malvaux Industries group, the company’s CNC machining center is looking to new technologies for producing interior components.
Under the name Bonnet Leclair, the company began in 1996, supplying the interiors for Dufour’s sailboats. Four years later the company name was changed to Naviline. Now established 30 miles (48 km) south of Nantes and strategically close to the Bénéteau plants in Vendée, Naviline has a 75,000-sq-ft (6,975m2) production space, and revenue of $6.7 million (€6 million). Its 48 permanent employees develop every stage of a project, from initial drawings to final varnishing of interior kits, including CAD design, CNC plywood cutting or plug milling, and finished accommodations modules, ready to fit. Naviline is tailored to meet production needs but is small and flexible enough for one-off jobs. Prototypes or projects for amateur builders, for example, are welcome, and any 2D or 3D job can be drawn up for an estimate. Due to an expanding market, machining costs are quite affordable. The cost of cutting 100 parts for a 20‘ (6.1m) sailboat, nested on thirteen 10‘ x 5‘ (3m x 1.5m) plywood panels, is around $1,100 (€1,000), compared with the cost of 100 hours of lofting and sawing by hand.
The engineering office prepares all 2D and 3D data sent to the CNC machines, including defining nesting patterns, 3D scanning, and modeling of furniture kits. One of the most important steps is tool-path programming. The Alphacam program’s simulation functions animate a virtual CNC machine step by step. This helps to prevent any machining or tool-change mistakes, and optimizes machining time. The program is employed to establish an estimate, and the final machining cost. Based on files from the designer or created from the designer’s sketches, the operator defines a zero reference and hollows, solids, scarfs, or text zones. After carefully checking, he sends the code to the production CNC machine via the site network.
Naviline’s shop has five 2D and 3D CNC machines, the largest having a 24‘ x 7‘ (7.3m x 2.1m) working envelope; a new 5-axis milling machine will soon be on site. Except for its size, which is tailored for standard 10‘ x 5‘ panels, a CNC machine works much like an architect’s drawing table to transfer computer drawings onto lofting paper. A sheet of plywood, secured on the perfectly flat table by a powerful vacuum pump, takes the place of the paper; a cutting head, equipped with a diamond tool to cut plywood, solid wood, rigid foam, or composites moves like a pen along the x- and y-axes. The vertical z-axis is used to lift the tool from the material and also make particular 3D cuts, such as ship-laps, bevels, keel bulb plugs, etc. To increase machining output and tool speed, the tool arm and table move simultaneously; and depending on nesting-pattern complexity, a sheet of plywood is fully cut in a few minutes.
With the availability of synthetic solid-surface composites, such as Corian from Dupont, for yacht interior design, Naviline developed expertise in thermoforming, machining, and finishing these relatively new materials. An oven next to the vacuum press heats the Corian sheets to the molding temperature. Next, they are laid on a CNC-milled wood plug and vacuum-formed to the desired shape. After cooling, the part is trimmed by hand or by a CNC machine. Naviline can produce complete Corian parts—kitchen countertops, sinks, and decorative engravings.
Traditional cabinetmaking skills enable furniture to be delivered as a precut kit or as a finished module ready to fit in the hull. Woodworking machinery in the shop is surrounded by 12 workstations, each equipped with a touch-screen displaying parts lists and 3D plans linked to the engineering office server, so updates and modifications can be done in real time. Six workstations are devoted to sanding, with a dedicated dust-extraction system.
Naviline offers any type of polyurethane- or polyester-based finish. Finishers use five stalls, two enclosed for painting jobs, and three open for hand-varnishing to any sheen—high-gloss, satin, or matte. An automated varnishing line, 5‘ wide, accommodates full-panel finishing, both sides being varnished and hot-cured at the same time. This helps keep costs down for mass production, but panel edges remain exposed to moisture after machining, a detail some boatbuilders seem to forget.
Naviline Industries, Rue Eric Tabarly, 44116 Vieillevigne, France, tel. + 33 2 40 02 07 27, website www.navi-line.com/en/.com/en/.
From “Rovings,” Professional BoatBuilder No. 158
Compiled by Dan Spurr