Tube Manufacture

Dolphin Inflatables enjoys an excellent reputation for custom and turnkey tube/pontoon manufacturing and is the first choice for commercial applications. Dolphin Inflatables has had over 15 years experience in this discipline.

We pride ourselves in providing unrivaled customer service, valuable design input, and superior products.

Tubes are sent to all four corners of the globe, packaged and ready to fit. Dolphin Inflatables is situated in the Western Cape, South Africa, giving us an unparalleled opportunity to test our products in some of the heaviest harshest waters in the world.

Our CAD design experience and production techniques allow us to efficiently manufacture any type or shape of tube, whether single custom or volume production.

Whether you need just one replacement tube for your old RIB, or you are designing a RIB for production, and you require OEM tubes to be mass produced Dolphin Inflatables has the know-how and experience in that field.

Retubing Ribs

The hard-bottom and engines of your RIB are fine, but your tubes look tired and leaky, and frequent patching has not solved the problem? Then extend the life of your RIB, and retube with us - your boat will look as good as new.

The new PVC components are marked and cut using patterns from our libraries, or using the existing tube as the pattern. After welding, the tubes progress to the finishing department, where the tubes are bonded to the hull and reinforced with strips. We then thermo-bond the handles, D-rings and fender strips, and also fit custom logos, graphics and any other accessories required.

Dolphin Inflatables is able to re tube all types and brands of RIBS, using the same imported high quality PVC used in all whitewater rafts. You bring your RIB to our facility and we will do the rest. Enjoy your boating? Knowing our expertise in welding and fitting PVC pontoons is matched by our excellent after-sales service.

Material Selection

Dolphin Inflatables expects to be measured against the very best in the marine industry. Through stringent material selection, Dolphin have chosen Valmex® Boat PVC by Mehler Texnologies in Germany. Mehler have been manufacturing the highest quality textiles in Germany for over 60 years and are widely recognised as the leader in this field.

The fabric used in the manufacture of an inflatable boats must be able to withstand extreme physical stresses and also be able to resist abrasion, hot and cold weather and UV light. That is asking a lot of fabric that you wish to be lightweight, flexible, air and water tight! Valmex® is manufactured in Germany under the internationally recognised standard of quality: DIN EN ISO 9001:2008

PVC fabrics contain a plasticiser in order to make them flexible. Cheap fabrics contain poor quality plasticisers that migrate to the surface resulting in the material becoming sticky, then brittle and finally failing altogether. In contrast, Valmex® contains only the highest quality plasticisers. There are many cheaper alternatives for manufacturering lower quality inflatable boats rejected by Dolphin Inflatables.

There was one other primary feature that we wanted for our chosen material - we wanted a fabric that was designed to be thermo-welded (see below).

Bonding - Glued or Welded Seams?

There are fundamentally two methods of bonding the seams of an inflatable boat: Glued or Welded. Again Dolphin Inflatables wanted to use the best method available in the industry to manufacture boats that would last.

Research indicates that the first point of failure of an inflatable boat is glued seams. For many years now we have seen issues with boats becoming weak at the seams as a result of the combination of poor fabric and poor glues. Plasticisers in the cheap PVCs would migrate into the glue, attacking the strength of the bond and resulting in boats that would literally fall apart at the seams. Glued seams are particularly susceptible to conditions involving UV, heat and humidity. There are two solutions to this problem: (1) Use the best German made fabric available (2) Thermo-weld the seams.

Thermo-welded seams has been a game-changer in the inflatable boat industry. A thermo-welded seam is a bond between two layers of fabric that fuses the two layers into one under heat. A thermo-welded seam is four times stronger, and lasts significantly longer than a glued seam. Another benefit of a thermo-welded seam is superior air-holding ability. A thermo-welded seam is a permanent bond. Thermo-welded seams also have high pressure tolerance. This is helpful as it means you don’t need to keep compensating for hot and cold weather conditions.

One last point is on Hypalon material. Hypalon exhibits high resistance to chemicals, abrasion and UV. However, Hypalon seams can only be bonded by glues. Seams on Hypalon boats are typically the first point of failure.

Recommendation

Before you buy or get your old boat re-tubed, ask the questions:

  • How long do I want my next boat to last?
  • Is it made with Valmex®?
  • Are the seams thermo-welded?

Cleaning Instructions / Recommendations for Inflatable Boats

  • No sovents or strong alkaline cleaners shall be used.
    Use of these products may cause damage. Due to previous experiences and extensive testing results we recommend mild non ammonia detergent liquid.
  • Rinse off the soil on the surface with cold or warm water.
  • Apply the amount of cleaner required for the type of soiling, following the recommended concentration laid down by the manufacturer of the cleaner. Spray it on or wipe it onto the material with a cloth. Leave the cleaner to work for up to 5 minutes and wipe it off with a cloth.
  • Rinse off the dirt with clean cold or warm water. Then dry off thoroughly with a dry cloth or air vent it. Do not overheat the surface.
  • The material must be stored clean and under absolute dry conditions.
  • If in doubt about a particular cleaning solution, please do not hesitate to contact us for our recommendation. We are prepared to carry out tests on the proposed detergents and check their recommendations.

    *Cleaning instructions are as per the Valmex® website and are published on our site without any legal commitment.