From the sea to the stars. Lorima is currently surfing on promising projects. Founded in 2002, the Lorient company manufactures some of the tallest carbon masts in the world (up to 54 m high). In its workshops located in the old submarine base, these days it is finalizing the masts of multihulls. Ultimate by François Gabart and D’Armel Le Cléac’h.
Alongside these technological giants of the seas and among the company’s thirty current projects, curved carbon fiber tubes of around ten meters have been draped by hand since the beginning of the year. Not to take off this time. Assembled, they will form an arch of around thirty meters which will be grafted onto a telescope of approximately 24 m in diameter. In the center, a raised box (also manufactured by Lorima) will house an astronomical camera.
“A project of excellence”
“The manufacturing technique is the same as for the masts”, explains Vincent Marsaudon. The director of the company had already realized such an arch in 2018 for a telescope built on the Spanish island of La Palma, in the Canary Islands. A first conclusive experience.
This time, Lorima has landed a contract for three new arches, for three new telescopes which will be installed on the same space observation site. “This is a excellence project with European and Japanese funds ”, specifies the Lorient. The first arch is due for delivery in 2022 and the other two will follow until 2023.
These telescopes will be used “for the detection of gamma rays”, explains Armand Fiasson, researcher at Annecy Laboratory of Particle Physics (LAPP) of Scientific Research National Center (CNRS), project partner. The advantage of a carbon arch is “to have a very light and rigid material which allows the telescope to move very quickly without too much vibration. We must be able to turn 180 ° in less than 20 seconds because the objective is to detect astrophysical objects which will emit very briefly and suddenly ”.
With this project, Lorima is proving that its maritime expertise can be exported to other sectors that use composites. If the company still produces 90% of the masts of boats, it has diversified. “When I took over the company in 2009, we only made masts for competitive sailing. Today, that only represents 40% ”, indicates Vincent Marsaudon. This change of course has boosted the turnover (8 M €) and the workforce of the company (about fifty), while smoothing the activity over the whole year.
And, despite the crisis, the order book is always full. New Imoca boat projects must come to fruition. Lorima is also working on the construction of the rigid liner sail, Solid Sail, with Chantiers de l’Atlantique, in Saint-Nazaire (44), and a consortium of companies from Morbihan. The mast specialist is making a 24 m long half-shell of a prototype which is due to be delivered this summer to Saint-Nazaire. A project for the future.
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