Originally Posted by codprawn
Probably that it suits volume production more. The number of people running 30yr old Avons that have had years of neglect makes me wonder why anyone would choose anything other than Hypalon.
Probably because the next generation will want their boats to last longer with less maintenance. Technological improvements are not all bad.
The machine welded method of construction got a bad rap, I think when Zodiac first transitioned to PVC. The primary problems were that the technique they used was not the greatest, resulting in quite a bit of trial and error tweaking until they got to where they are now (and time will tell if it's actually right at this point or not.) Add to that the relatively unstable nature of PVC (not the greatest material for UV resistance, and somewhat prone to ofgassing of solvents, resulting in age embrittlement, I think), and the general consensus became that machine assembly was a bad thing.
I personally think the machine assembly is not the problem, and stands to reduce the amount of time and man-labor that goes into making tubes. The key is finding the right material, and mating that with the right assembly techniques. Wing may very well have done that, if the military's evaluation of their product holds out.
RAS: If it gets a hole, repair is no different than hypalon: stick a patch on it. Polyurethane is actually supposed to be easier to repair than hypalon; any sort of polyurethane adhesive (Sikaflex, Aquaseal, 4200, etc.) and a patch, and you're good. No worrying about surface roughness, solvent penetration and evaporation and such. You have to admit that surface prep to repair hypalon is a bit of a chore; I think the prep part is reduced with PU.
I know the hypalon repuation is going to be a tough thing to overcome, and I know there are an awful lot of people who would still choose it first. Which is fine; hypalon is a great material for boats, as long as you have the skilled labor to assemble it into something you can use. I'm just saying that there are other options that are suitable, too.
For me, I found the PU cost was a bit more than I could handle at the time (not to mention that the builder probably wouldn't have wanted to fit a 3rd party tubeset.) Perhaps in years to come I'll look into it again, should the need ever arise.