Triplate® for Shipbuilding and Offshore Applications

Throughout the initial construction and operational lifetime of a ship it is exposed to many harsh environments containing corrosive influences. For years, shipbuilders have been working toward the development of solutions to slow this deterioration process and enhance the performance and life expectancy of their products.

A ship’s structural transition joints must be able to withstand corrosion to perpetuate the safety and functionality of the vessel. Triplate® is made from aluminum and steel, which have vastly different coefficients of thermal expansion.  Traditionally bolted and riveted unions allow seawater to compromise their structural integrity with oxidation, cracking and brittleness.

Explosion welding, a process in which metal plates are clad at ultra-high velocities to form a structural transition joint, improves corrosion resistance but these joints are still susceptible to the formation of oxide agglomerations when exposed to seawater and the atmosphere.

Finally, we have a solution! Triplate®, a vacuum-explosion welded transition joint is made from three homogenously bonded layers and it has become the leading solution to combat corrosion in maritime applications. The vacuum explosion welding process creates the physical and chemical properties necessary to effectively seal the joint and slow the corrosion process.

When bonded using the vacuum explosion welding process, the layers — a steel base, a pure aluminum center, and a corrosion-resistant aluminum layer— create a stronger and more durable joint than those formed by traditional bolting and riveting techniques. The use of a vacuum chamber eliminates the possibility of oxides, resulting in a less violent explosion and a smoother metallic bond.

Polystyrene blocks are placed between the metal plates to create this homogenously bonded transition joint. The explosion causes the plates to become super-plastic at the collision point, thereby breaking up the oxides on the metals’ surfaces. The pressure from the explosion drives the top plate down into the bottom plate, forming a seamless atomic bond.

The result of this vacuum-cladding process is Triplate®, a formable, customizable structural transition joint for attaching aluminum to steel. The direct welding of aluminum to steel isn’t possible through traditional fusion methods. Instead, Triplate® acts as an intermediate layer between the steel and the aluminum to join the metals together for structural integrity in the maritime industry.

Thanks to the vacuum explosion welding process, Triplate® joints are functional to endure extreme temperature changes and to resist corrosive. As proven through the MIL-J-24445A inspection procedure, Triplate® joints maintain function, shape, and structural integrity despite exposure to maritime environments.


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Continental Steel & Tube Company is proud to be the exclusive distributor of Triplate® in North America. For more information about this groundbreaking product for use in your next shipbuilding or offshore project, please contact us today.

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