High-Performance, Plastic Boats Made in Africa

Success Stories12 Nov 2019

The high-performance plastic boats were manufactured in South Africa with air-heated, hand extruders from Leister Switzerland.

Author: Silke Landtwing, Manager Corporate Communications, Leister Switzerland

The following article explains how the boats are manufactured, what makes them special and what they are mainly used for.

It was written in close cooperation with Rhino Marine (PTY) Ltd. and Rachid Benlakhouy, Sales Manager Africa, Leister Switzerland.


Rhino Marine (PTY) Ltd. is a shipbuilding company based in Cape Town, South Africa, that fabricates the virtually indestructible HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) offshore work boat, Rhino Craft. These vessels have been used successfully for over 15 years, primarily in the marine oil and gas fields.

Rhino boats are made out of plastic and have considerable advantages over boats made of other materials such as metal and glass fibers:

  • Easy to repair: There's a practical repair kit for thermoplastic welding, consisting of the FUSION 1 Extrusion Welder, a TRIAC hand welding tool, HDPE welding rod and a HDPE plate.
  • Easy to manufacture: Producing plastic boats is faster, easier and cheaper than manufacturing boats made of other materials.

Please see table below for HDPE Advantages over other boat materials:

To sum this up, HDPE boats are more cost effective in the grand scheme because they are virtually indestructible and outlast other boats.

How Rhino Boats Are Made

First, Rhino boats are designed using computer-assisted design software. Once a design is completed, the model is checked by a Naval Architect Consultant to ensure it's ready for the water. Provided all the tests are satisfactory, the three-dimensional model will then be converted into a number of 2D AutoCAD part and fabrication drawings.

The CNC cutting machine is then used to cut HDPE parts required to fabricate the boats from various thicknesses of HDPE sheet. Furthermore, when working with a pontoon-based craft, such as the HD and EHD range, specialized HDPE pontoon pipes are ordered for the fabrication.


Special jigs have been developed to speed up the manufacturing process. The jigs are designed to hold either the pontoon pipes or the bulkhead framework in place, while the external, underside parts like the hulls, transom and bulwarks are joined together by extrusion welding with Leister equipment.

Which Leister Extruders and Hand Welders Does Rhino Marine Use?

Rachid Benlakhouy, Sales Manager of Africa, was on site and answered this question exactly:


«Rhino Marine uses the Leister FUSION 2, FUSION 3 and FUSION 3C extrusion welders, as well as the TRIAC S and TRIAC ST hot-air hand tools for their work.» Yes, you read that correctly. Although the TRIAC S is no longer in production, it is still used daily here. This is a good example of the longevity that comes with Leisters high-quality equipment.

Leister Distributor in South Africa and Its Reseller in Cape Town

PLASTI-WELD, Leister distributor in Johannesburg, and Top Therm, its reseller in Cape Town, sell the required Leister equipment on site, while ensuring quality service and repair. They also supply the plastic welding wire, which is melted with Leister extruders using hot air and applied to the plastic parts to be welded with the welding shoe. This process can be seen in the following video:

Greg Webb, General Manager of PLASTI-WELD and Richard Wale, Marketing & Sales Manager of Rhino Marine Products (Pty) Ltd. agree: «The high quality of Leister equipment, as well as the first-class service and repair are essential for Rhino Marine's productivity.»

Repairs Can Take Place on Site

If customers do not have access to HDPE welding equipment, Rhino Marine Products helps with a special service: trained personnel drive the necessary equipment to the site (often offshore) and carry out the necessary repairs and/or additions directly on site.

Due to the robust nature of the HDPE hulls of Rhino boats, the maintenance effort is usually low. As a testament, many of Rhino Marine Products customers have boats that have been in use for 15 years and have required little to no maintenance at all.

Thank You for the Excellent Cooperation

We'd like to thank Rhino Marine Products, our distributor, PLASTI-WELD, and its reseller, Top Therm, for the excellent cooperation. We wish you lots of continued success!

Boat Construction and Repair