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PVC or Hypalon : Which one to choose for your pneumatic tubes ?

PVC or Hypalon : Which one to choose for your pneumatic tubes ?

Previously, we covered a number of questions that you may have whenbuying a RIB. We have reviewed the best brands, but also what accessories to choose, or we have given you advice on the second hand market. However, there is still a very important subject, at the heart of our business, which we will address today: the choice of the material of the floats of your future boat!

Indeed, you may have noticed during your research, two materials in particular dominate the market of semi-rigid boats: PVC and Hypalon-Neoprene.

But how to choose between the two types of protective fabric? What are their particularities, their advantages or disadvantages?


What is PVC?

You are all familiar with PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), this material is found everywhere in our consumer society, and in particular in packaging.

PVC belongs to the category of thermoplastics, and are made from derivatives of petroleum products. Initially, PVC is a rigid material, but it is softened by the use of plasticizers.


What are the advantages of PVC?

The first advantage of PVC is its price. Indeed, easier to assemble (because unlike hypalon, PVC can be "welded"), PVC costs 2 to 3 times less than its competitor. PVC is therefore very easily "industrialized", while hypalon requires manual assembly (where the operator's skills are tested).

The second advantage of PVC also stems from this technique of assembly by welding. Compared to hypalon fabrics which are glued to the floats, PVC is fixed by welding. As a result, PVC will not have any problems of "ungluing" in the long term.

Third, it should be noted that several types of weaves and weights are available for PVC fabrics. On the one hand, there are single and double weaves, and on the other hand, weights of 1100, 1200, and 1500 decitex. The heavier weights will be used for large boats exposed to shocks and docking, and the lighter weights will be suitable for smaller models, as is often the case for tenders.

On this subject, the last advantage of PVC is that it can be lighter than hypalon for the same boat, but this difference is relatively negligible.


What is Hypalon?

Hypalon is a synthetic elastomer derived from rubber, which is then coated on a fabric weave.


What are the advantages of Hypalon?

First of all, the choice of colors and customization. Where PVC is often limited in terms of colors, being limited to traditional colors such as black, white, gray, blue, red, Hypalon fabrics are offered in a wide range. At Orca Retail, we offer a wide range of options for the appearance (or coating) of Hypalon fabrics. You can order our color daisy for only 10 € and thus enlighten your choice. 

Secondly, Hypalon performs better when it comes to heat and ultraviolet resistance. PVC is indeed a material more sensitive to temperature differences, and especially to heat, which can cause problems of over-inflation. However, it is true that in either case, it is always good to check the inflation level of your RIB boat, as we mentioned in this article. The sun's rays also affect the durability of your boat's cover, and here again, the advantage goes to Hypalon fabric.

Resistance to chemicals and oil. The hypalon is also superior, which in the long run, promises a better longevity. It is better able to withstand the pollution that can sometimes mar our coasts or more generally our marinas, but also better able to withstand various chemicals (such as for maintenance).

Finally, floats with hypalon fabric are easier to repair. You can buy fabric by the meter from our store and easily cold glue a new layer of fabric to your boat to reinforce it. There is no need to re-weld and to have complex equipment for your repairs.



Consequently, hypalon is rather recommended for boats exposed to a lot of outdoor exposure, and in particular in sunny environments, requiring less maintenance and attention than PVC. PVC will indeed age more quickly, and even become a bit sticky and tacky because of the plasticizing materials that will tend to rise on the outside of the fabric.

It is therefore important to determine the use, the frequency of use, the storage conditions of your boat, and of course, the budget (and therefore also the desired size for the boat) before making your choice between PVC or hypalon materials.

Of course, at Orca Retail and Pennel & Flipo, as the world leader in the production of hypalon fabrics, we have chosen our side!

Visit our store or contact us to learn more about our products!


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