Our inflatable boats, inflatable kayaks, kaboats, river rafts, etc are all hand-sealed at the seams for perfect seaming, the most expensive and reliable method used today. Most seams are strengthened with four layers of bonded fabric for maximum strength and durability. Our seams are reliable and will not fall apart, even after many years of use in most weather conditions. Most seams are quadruple overlap for better protection as shown below:
Inflatable Boats Fabric Structure:
There are currently two major methods constructing an inflatable boat: welded and glued seams. And there is a lot of misunderstanding about "hand glued" PVC seams vs. "welded". In fact, hand glued PVC is actually solvent-welded, whereas other method is a heat-welded, and both methods result in a similar fusing of the membrane. But, heat welded PVC may be more susceptible to damage from folding than hand glued, cold welded PVC. Furthermore, the four layer bonding construction used by Saturn actually provides more overlay and reinforcement of the seam than the simple overlap of welded construction of welding.
Heat welded PVC is preferable when inflatable is used for prolonged periods of time in hot and humid locations, such as Caribbeans, South or Central America. Some Saturn and all Azzurro Mare boats are made with heat welded technology. Please note that glued seams on a PVC boat are fundamentally different than glued seams on a rubber (Hypalon/Neoprene) boat.
Hand Glued Seams Vs. Welded Seams:
PVC Fabric Vs. Hypalon.
There is no doubt that PVC fabric won't last as long as Hypalon fabric if the boat is subjected to prolonged periods of direct sunlight and no measures have been taken to protect the PVC fabric from the sun (i.e. boat cover or UV spray). After a number of years in direct sunlight the PVC fabric can become sticky. After that it can also become discolored.
When not in use, it is highly recommended to store PVC inflatable products in a well ventilated, shaded area. Humidity and heat are killers for PVC glue used in the assembly of inflatable boats. Do NOT store PVC inflatables in closed containers, boxes or storage areas with no ventilation and under direct sunlight. Humidity will accumulate in tightly closed storage areas and will weaken the chemical bond of PVC glue once significant heat is present.
Here are some things to consider:
1) PVC is not a problem unless your boat is going to be outside and unprotected all summer, every year. If you only use the boat occasionally such as on weekends or while on vacation then it isn't a factor at all. Even if you leave your boat outside all the time the issue can be solved by putting a sun/rain cover on your boat when it isn't in use or by applying a UV protective spray periodically. If you are willing to take the necessary steps required to protect your PVC boat then you can take advantage of the significantly more attractive pricing points that we are able to offer with our PVC boats. Regular usage of boat cover will significantly improve life expectancy of your boat.
2) Hypalon inflatable boats are significantly more expensive. On average a Hypalon inflatable boat will cost you 50 to 75 percent more than a PVC inflatable boat that is comparable in size and equipment options. However, if the intended use for your boat will involve very long periods of exposure to sunshine and if you are not inclined to cover or protect the boat when it isn't in use then perhaps the added expense associated with a Hypalon boat will make practical sense for you. If you are planning to leave your uncovered dinghy on a dock or in a water 365 days/year for several years, then Hypalon is for you.