LTB Engineering, PC

LTB Engineering, PC
907 Stuart Ave
Mamaroneck, NY 10543
914 777 1933

Sail Making Process and Machines


One of our very first projects was the development of a process to manufacture high performance sails for racing sailboats.  Unlike conventional sailmaking where the materials dictate the cuts of cloth and construction, the client’s vision was for an integrated use of load bearing yarn in an otherwise lightweight sandwich of polymer films.  Thus the objective was to produce extremely strong, lightweight and cost effective sails where the design would dictate both the loaded paths and the materials in a computer aided manufacturing process.

The process concept was based on very large scale robotics to handle the films, apply the load bearing yarns and to laminate the sandwich.  The engineering approach was a unique blend of physics and  empirical development.  It was an example of guerilla engineering; extremely fast, highly effective and inexpensive

The solutions lay in technology developments in mechanical and electrical engineering.  The material set was derived through substantial research and experimentation.  A large scale gantry system was design and constructed with a system of interchangeable heads for the various processes.  The design data was manipulated from its native format into machine code.  The development costs and timescales are estimated to be orders of magnitude beneath those of competitive products. 


The challenges were numerous;

1. What material sets would suitably bond and support the high loads?

2. What process could deposit the materials at a reasonable speed?

3. How could the design data be traversed to machine useable information?

4. How could the developmental and process costs and times be minimized?

Chinese entrant in 2007 America’s Cup

Lamination experiments