Replacing wooden decking on cruise ships and super yachts with resin-based coatings is leading to added sustainability as well as delivering innovative designs and practical flooring, say market leaders Bolidt.

At a press preview of the opening of their new Rotterdam Innovation Centre, Rientz Willem Bol, Chief Executive Officer of Bolidt, said: “We have always invested in innovation. If you don’t think about the future, you will not have one”.

Bol says that innovation is “part of Bolidt’s DNA” as a company, determining its approach to sustainability, hygiene, safety, energy & data, and design. It anticipated demand for more sustainable products from the cruise sector by becoming the first supplier to replace teak with the synthetic Bolideck® Future Teak, for example, he pointed out. The Bolidt Innovation Center gives physical form to the creative and collaborative approach keeping the company ahead of its competitors.

“In the Bolidt Innovation Center, we will focus specifically on open source innovation and collaboration,” says Bol. “Only by dreaming, thinking and working together, and letting people experience everything that is possible with synthetics, will we achieve innovation that has the potential to conquer the world. That is what we want to achieve here, together with all of our partners.”

Future teak is now extremely popular with the cruise industry and is becoming more and more popular with the superyacht market even though there is often a desire to maintain traditional teak. The weight of the flooring system is about 40% less than traditional systems. Research on sustainability is being carried out alongside developing other innovations. The obvious advantage is that the coatings do not require any trees to be cut down, and the coating is made entirely from plant oil resins, with no petrochemical products. It also lasts very much longer than wood.

Research is now centring on recycling of the decking when it is removed. Although the material can not be returned to a liquid form it can be shredded into soft fibre-like particles, and Bolidt are working on ways of incorporating these into new types of products.

The state-of-the-art building adds to Bolidt’s impressive campus, with a striking15m-high partly transparent shell, echoed by extensive use of interior glass and demonstration aids. It aims to function as a new hub for collaborative product development and testing, to take flooring and decking design using synthetic materials to a new level.

“The building will provide a focal point for us to showcase the products we can offer to a wide range of industries, but also to interact with partners to drive forward our research and development work for years to come,” says Michel van der Spek, Bolidt Marketing and Experience Director. “We expect the memory of a visit to the Bolidt Center will last a long time as visitors will not only be able to see, feel and experience how materials are created, but can also try their hand at developing materials of their own in the R&D Center.

“The building is bursting with moments and places where the visitor is part of the innovation formula. In the R&D Center you can put together your own samples or conduct experiments under the supervision of specialists. This gives visitors a live experience of all the possible uses for Bolidt’s know-how and materials.

“Furthermore, an advanced climate chamber and accelerated weathering laboratory to test materials in harsh and extreme environments”, explains Jacco van Overbeek, Bolidt Maritime Division Director. “We are working on a number of Polar and expedition cruise vessel projects at the moment and these facilities will be put to good use developing materials that meet the needs of shipowners and passengers onboard,” he says. “We are calling this entire area the Bolidt Campus, as part of what was the previously empty riverside space called AREA78. The Bolidt Innovation Center is at the heart of the campus, which is exactly as it should be because innovation is the heart and soul of Bolidt.”