Why Doluflex panels are a shipbuilder’s secret weapon

Made by Ercole Marelli Doluflex, they are lightweight and pliable, yet strong and durable, which makes them ideal for use on passenger ships

Why Doluflex panels are a shipbuilder’s secret weapon
The strong aluminium core of Doluflex panels make them ideal for building spaces on ships

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Thin, lightweight, easy to bend and install, strong and highly resistant to corrosion, aluminium structural panels are the shipbuilder’s secret weapon. Thanks to their versatility, these panels can be used to construct everything from ceilings, floors, inspection hatches and toilets, to partition walls between passenger cabins and balconies, and furniture. They can even be used to form decorative elements on pillars, countertops and walls with unusual geometries.

Italy-based company Ercole Marelli Doluflex has been developing its trademark Doluflex aluminium structural panels for various applications in the shipbuilding, railway, construction, interior outfitting and furnishing industries for the past 20 years. All panels are manufactured at its 6,000-metre-square factory in Medolago, Bergamo, using a UNI EN ISO 9001:2015 certified industrial process that covers the entire production cycle – from raw materials to finished products. The company collaborates with each client to outline the specific technical requirements of their project and customise the aluminium panels to meet these needs. 

Doluflex sandwich panels feature a corrugated aluminium core in a trapezoidal structure bonded between two flat sheets of aluminium, which makes them very strong and durable. Ercole Marelli Doluflex can also bond or glue the corrugated aluminium core to two sheets of different non-metallic materials – such as high-pressure laminate, acrylic or polycarbonate – to create composite panels that can be used onboard ships. 

Regardless of their material composition, the panels can be manufactured in either one dimension or with two-dimensional curved geometries and can be between 4-42 millimetres (mm) thick. They are delivered in three standard widths – 1,020mm, 1,250mm and 1,500mm – and can be produced in any length up to 5,000mm. All of the panels comply with Marine Equipment Directive MED B+D fire protection requirement. 

Impressed by their suitability for use onboard passenger ships, several major shipbuilders have used Doluflex panels to construct multiple areas onboard some of the world’s newest cruise ships. Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, for example, used Doluflex panels to construct both MSC Cruises’ MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview, which began sailing in December 2017 and June 2018. Similarly, France-based shipyard STX France used Doluflex panels when constructing MSC Meraviglia and Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas, which have been in service since June 2017 and 2018 respectively. Meanwhile, Japan’s Mitsubishi Shipbuilding also used Doluflex panels when building AIDA Cruises’ newest sister ships, AIDAprima and AIDAperla, before they debuted in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
Tuesday, February 19, 2019