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Subsea Foam Equipped ROVs to Dive Deeper

General Plastics’ subsea polyurethane foam equipped remotely operated vehicles to dive deeper with buoyancy foam

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The Application:

Outland Technology has been in the business of producing underwater systems, video cameras, and lights for diving companies and military operations for more than 30 years. About 16 years ago, the company pursued building a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for underwater functions, including oil rig and pipeline inspections, collegiate research, and military uses. Built with multiple cameras, including a forward camera that has a 360° range of motion, Outland Technology’s feature-filled ROVs continue to offer tremendous benefits for subsea applications.

The Challenge:

When Outland Technology expanded their product line 16 years ago, they faced a challenge. They knew that syntactic foam was a flotation option for the ROV because it can withstand depths of 500 feet. However, with a minimum density of 30 pounds, it was simply too heavy for such a small vehicle. Outland Technology determined that polyurethane foam was a great syntactic foam alternative, and they began working with a supplier. However, they had to bond 1″ sheets together to achieve their desired thickness. After some research, Outland Technology learned about General Plastics’ 15-pound density submersible foam series, and their ability to deliver customized solutions.

Key Requirements:

• Low-density foam
• Provide buoyancy underwater to depth of 500 feet
• Available in custom sizes

The Solution:

Outland Technology turned to General Plastics’ LAST-A-FOAM® R-3300 series to provide underwater buoyancy for their ROV’s. The product they ultimately chose, the R-3315, could go to depths up to 700 feet uncoated. Since the R-3315 foam is easy to machine and comes in custom sizes, it gave Outland Technology the ability to work directly with General Plastics to customize the foam to fit individual applications, both in terms of size and thickness. They knew that as their vehicles get heavier, General Plastics will be able to machine the foam to its desired thickness.

ROVGeneral Plastics’ R-3315 remained beneficial as Outland Technology continued to further develop their ROV. As Outland Technology’s founder Buddy Mayfield explains, “We originally designed our ROV to go to 500 feet, mostly because the electronics, power supplies, and copper in the cable restricted us from going any deeper. But as we designed higher voltages and better cables, we realized we could reach depths of 1,000 feet, or 500 psi, with the right buoyancy to sustain our ROVs.” Also, by fiberglassing over the foam, Outland Technology increased the depth rating to produce a product that can sustain the evolving demand of customers.

Outland Technology tested General Plastics’ R-3315 product for their application back in 1999, and has been using it ever since to equip their underwater ROV’s to dive even deeper.



R-3300 Benefits:

• Four products for different weight/depth performances
• Provides buoyancy with depths to 1,200 feet uncoated
• Excellent compressive properties
• Easy to machine, coat and paint
• Performs in freshwater or saltwater
• Available in big blocks and other custom sizes

Summary of R-3300 Submersible Series Products:

Products Density
Tested Depth
R-3312 12 10 24 100 300
R-3312 12 14 18 100 300
R-3315 15 10 24 100 700
R-3315 15 14 18 100 700
R-3318 18 10 24 100 800
R-3318 18 14 18 100 800
R-3325 25 10 24 100 1200
R-3325 25 14 18 100 1200

Shown are maximum standard stock sizes based on density. Custom sizes are available. Cut sheets are available from .125 inches (3.175 mm) up to standard stock heights as listed above.

Contact us today to learn more about our subsea buoyancy foam series.