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North Sails Completes Shift From 3DL to 3Di Product Lines

11th February 2018
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2018 sees North Sails completes a ten–year move from 3DL string laminates to 3Di 'moulded composite sail structures' 2018 sees North Sails completes a ten–year move from 3DL string laminates to 3Di 'moulded composite sail structures' Photo: Ben Zuker

The beginning of 2018 marks a milestone for North Sails as the international sailmaker completes a ten–year transformation from 3DL string laminates to 3Di moulded composite sail structures. It's a development that North Sails Ireland chief Nigel Young says is a major change in sail construction. 

'During my 37 years in sail making (the last 23 with North) I have only really seen two major changes in sail construction. The first being 3DL from North Sails back in the 90's and the second and most recent being 3Di also from North Sails', he told Afloat.ie

According to Young, who is based at the North Sails Ireland HQ in Cork Harbour, 'the weak link in all performance laminate sails for the last 40 years has been the plastic film, the main benefit for us here in Ireland with 3Di is the fact that there is no plastic film in the sails at all...'.

'We have all seen the effects on the film sails as they age, no matter what protection you give them the film, ultimately breaks and the sail fails' he says.

Nigel Young north sails irelandNigel Young of North Sails Ireland: 'During my 37 years in sail making (the last 23 with North) I have only really seen two major changes in sail construction'

North Sails was at the forefront of the mylar and yarn laminated construction wave with its groundbreaking 3DL sails. 3DL sails dominated performance sailmaking from the early 1990’s until the 2007 America’s Cup. With the shift to 3Di, the company ceased production of laminated sails reliant on mylar and is fully committed to the spread filament, prepreg, 3D composite structures. Three dimensional, full-scale shape molding remains a cornerstone of the North Sails approach.

3Di 3DL 1with 3Di sail construction there is no plastic film in the sails at all

3Di structures were first trialled by the defender syndicate, Alinghi in preparation for their defense in the 33rd America’s Cup. Since those early days, the 3Di concept has been developed and expanded for use across all types of sailing, from grand prix to one design and Superyachts to cruising. Today’s 3Di sails deliver greater shape-holding properties and vastly improved durability compared to any mylar and string, laminated sail construction.

As the 3Di product line has gained acceptance, and in particular with the introduction of 3Di NORDAC for smaller cruising boats and 3Di RAW 760S for smaller race boats, North Sails has taken steps to increase production capacity.North Sails has systematically converted their manufacturing facilities in Minden, Nevada, and Sri Lanka as the product line has shifted from 3DL and paneled to 3Di. As of September 2017, the last 3DL production line was shut down and both factories are running exclusively 3Di product lines. Today North Sails has identical prepreg converting lines in both the Minden and Sri Lanka factories running 14 shifts per week, with seven Automated Tape Laying (ATL) lines running 24/7 in Minden and five lines running 24/7 in Sri Lanka.

The prepreg converting and ATL lines feed a combined eight gantries and 10 full scale, adjustable 3D molds. North’s facility in Sri Lanka focuses on building 3Di sails for boats up to 50’, while Minden specialises in Grand Prix and Superyacht sails.

Commenting on the evolution of the production strategy, North Sails CEO Dan Neri stated, “The expansion of the Sri Lanka factory is in response to the successful launch of 3Di RAW 760S sails for smaller race boats and 3Di NORDAC for smaller cruising boats. 3Di sails continue to meet the requirements of sailors in all classes from the 18′ Skiffs in Australia to the 100′ Ultime fleet in France. The technology is behind an unprecedented number of race victories and world records and we hope many more cruising adventures as 3Di NORDAC becomes more established within the cruising community.”

“The 3Di sails from North have been excellent. 35,000 NM usage. Give it a new paint job, and I bet if you would ask anyone, they would say this is a brand new main. It’s the same for the other sails. You can see they’ve been used but they are still in good shape. This mileage would be a lifetime for the average cruiser. I know what I would buy.”
-Bouwe Bekking, Team Brunel

3D Minden is the flagship center for materials research, engineering and manufacturing of 3-Dimensional products which are unique to North Sails. Sri Lanka Manufacturing is a wholly owned, state-of-the-art, facility employing close to 1,200 people across eight buildings. The products from Minden and Sri Lanka are sent to every port in the world.

Nigel Young concludes 'With 3Di there is no film to crack and a full range of 3Di products to choose from. From Cruising in West Cork to IMOCA 60 single handed around the Globe, North Sails Ireland have the 3Di product for you'

Published in North Sails Ireland

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LOFT INFO

Cois Chuain
O'Regan's Field
Myrtleville, Cork P43 V997
 353 0212061769

SPECIALTIES

Bend on / Bend off, Canvas, Certified Service, Sail Hardware Upgrades, Sail Inspection / Evaluation, Sail Measurement, Sail Repair, Sail Storage, Sail Washing

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NORTH SAILS EXPERTS

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Nigel Young

Loft Manager, One Design Expert
[email protected]

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Shane Hughes

One Design Expert, Sales Person
[email protected]

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Maurice O’Connell

One Design Expert, Sales Person
[email protected]

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Richard Marshall

Service Manager
[email protected]

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North Sails Ireland is operated by Loft Manager and One Design Expert Nigel Young at his Cork Harbour base at Myrtleville. The company specialities include Bend on / Bend off, Canvas, Certified Service, Sail Hardware Upgrades, Sail Inspection / Evaluation, Sail Measurement, Sail Repair, Sail Storage and Sail Washing. Working with Nigel are Maurice O'Connell, Shane Hughes and Richard Marshall.

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