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The NPL is a laminated sail meaning it has a film or scrim holding together the structure of the sail. 3Di's don't need this film and the shape and structure are baked into the sail causing better shape holding and longevity for the same weight.

The real question should be which 3Di variant you're looking at as there are quite a few now. The 3Di RAW stuff trades lightness for longevity and Endurance/Ocean add a protective film to trade longevity for more weight. I've sailed on one boat with 3Di and a couple with laminate sails (including mine). The boat with the 3Di sails was super happy with them and I could see why.

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3Di is a 3D molded composite structure consisting of oriented fiber and thermoset resin. The entire process (filament spreading / tape laying / mold shaping / vacuum & heat consolidation) is performed for each sail. All of the reinforcing is created as integral parts of the structure and there is NO MYLAR FILM in any part of the sail. 

NPL Sport Aramid is a traditional laminated Film / Yarn / Film fabric engineered by North Cloth and laminated in house on one of the newest and most sophisticated laminators in the sailcloth industry. It's as high a quality sail fabric as you can find from Bainbridge , D/P, Challenge or Contender, but at the end of the day, it is still two films stuck together with thermoplastic (hot-melt) glue and some yarn in between, not significantly different than has been done since 1980.

The difference between thermoset and thermoplastic is critical. Thermoset is a heat induced chemical bond that is permanent. Thermoplastic will soften at relatively low temperatures and is used in laminating films because the cure temps of thermoset are too high for mylar films. Thermoplastic glues are also hygroscopic and moisture will eventually deteriorate the bond.  

Paneled sails are less efficient in their use of structural fibers as well. The yarn orientations are compromised by being initially arranged within a rectangle (cloth width by roll length) that has to be cut into triangles that then are assembled into a larger triangle before additional plies of the same material are added for reinforcement. The 3Di membrane has every tape applied to address a load requirement of the particular sail with a much more gradual build up of reinforced areas as an integral part of the structure. 

For J-105 Jibs, 3Di has another advantage in that the process is highly repeatable. Whether done in batches or single sails months apart, the tape laying and mold setup are driven by machines that don't have bad days and the resulting molded membranes are virtually identical. No matter how accurately sail panels are cut by a plotter, someone has to manually tape a cut edge to a drawn seam allowance by hand. This is why 3Di is the go to choice when classes want identical sails.

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You'll pay more for the 3di now but save money later because the 3di will last far longer than the laminate.  You'll also be much happier trimming and racing with the 3di.  That shit is no joke and no marketing gimmick.  It's every bit as good as North markets it to be.  Maybe the only drawback to 3di is it seems to be slightly more prone to abrasion wear?  But it's super easy to fix, just put a sticky 3di sail cloth patch on it and it's fixed, no sewing machine or needles needed.  The Volvo Ocean race boats all used 3di for a reason.  1) Because they put the sails through a ton of abuse and miles and needed sails that can hold up to that.  2) Well ok yeah, probably because North made them a deal they can't refuse.  But still, the 3di longevity is shown by the sails on those boats.  btw, I have no affiliation with North, just a very happy 3di customer.

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I'm on my third 3Di jib for my J105. I went from using all of my sail buttons every year (J105 allows a 2,3,2,3 sequence yearly for new sails) to just 2 each year - one kite and then either a jib or a main. 3Di just lasts longer. On top of that, I have really good sails for as backups since the 3Di still seems to look pretty good after 2 seasons of use. When evaluated over a multiple year program, 3Di saves a little money and provides peace of mind because it's so tough. 

By the way, I have a garage full of J105 sails that have been used for a couple of seasons and then upgraded. PM me if anyone wants to buy one - jibs, mains and kites. 

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On 7/29/2020 at 8:24 AM, Frogman56 said:

Nah,

GPL is still the most durable. And way economical...

Anything to back that up? I ask as it seems the fiber count in the in the latest 2020 3Di quotes are down some 30% vs. the 2018 3Di quotes. The warranty on paneled sails is longer by a year than the 3Di as well. I'm not doubting the 3Di process (sails I trimmed to Bermuda were AWESOME) and maybe the engineering is better but I'm starting to think North might be cutting back on the thread count to not only save weight but reduce the competitive sail life some. Again, I could be blowing smoke and conspiracy theories but this is the same tactic taken in every other consumer item for the last 50 years...

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4 hours ago, Wet Spreaders said:

I'm on my third 3Di jib for my J105. I went from using all of my sail buttons every year (J105 allows a 2,3,2,3 sequence yearly for new sails) to just 2 each year - one kite and then either a jib or a main. 3Di just lasts longer. On top of that, I have really good sails for as backups since the 3Di still seems to look pretty good after 2 seasons of use. When evaluated over a multiple year program, 3Di saves a little money and provides peace of mind because it's so tough. 

By the way, I have a garage full of J105 sails that have been used for a couple of seasons and then upgraded. PM me if anyone wants to buy one - jibs, mains and kites. 

I'm sure google can help, but are all three of your 3Di jibs the same?

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3 minutes ago, samc99us said:

Anything to back that up? I ask as it seems the fiber count in the in the latest 2020 3Di quotes are down some 30-40% vs. the 2018 3Di quotes. The warranty on paneled sails is longer by a year than the 3Di as well. I'm not doubting the 3Di process (sails I trimmed to Bermuda were AWESOME) and maybe the engineering is better but I'm starting to think North might be cutting back on the thread count to not only save weight but reduce the competitive sail life some. Again, I could be blowing smoke and conspiracy theories but this is the same tactic taken in every other consumer item for the last 50 years...

It's more likely that you are looking at quotes of different 3Di products than any change in what you call "fiber count". North's use of "12,600 Dpi" is generic representation of material weight, but the various fiber combinations are rated differently for the application. All Polyester Nordac 330 is much stretchier than Endurance or RAW 760, so NorDac 330 requires higher Dpi for the same application.  

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3 minutes ago, A3A said:

It's more likely that you are looking at quotes of different 3Di products than any change in what you call "fiber count". North's use of "12,600 Dpi" is generic representation of material weight, but the various fiber combinations are rated differently for the application. All Polyester Nordac 330 is much stretchier than Endurance or RAW 760, so NorDac 330 requires higher Dpi for the same application.  

Nope, Raw 760 quotes from 2 years ago vs. today. As you say though, could just be a naming scheme.

The bottom line comes down to this: is a North 3Di Raw 760 #1 jib, or even a 780 #1 jib for a 40 foot racer/cruiser going to last 30% longer than the same sail built from DP's Carbon Sport? Is the North 3Di Endurance going to last 50% longer than a DP Carbon Sport/GPL liteskin sail? I'm not questioning the all-out performance benefits of 3Di when you factor weight and sail shape into the equation and ignore cost, but I'm basically asking is the North product, on a nominal 20% discount, 30-50% better than the comparable paneled sail from another high end sailmaker?

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Fits nicely with the story of Norths being concerned about the longevity of the 3di sails.

Worried they were going to last too long and lead to a drop in orders.

I'm sure they will tell you the new improved ones are now 20% lighter.

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5 hours ago, samc99us said:

I'm sure google can help, but are all three of your 3Di jibs the same?

No - they follow the trend over the 6 years that we have been allowed 3Di sails. I'm casting back and I'd have to dig into my sail graveyard to be sure, but I think one has taffeta on one side, one has roller battens and one is "raw". Doesn't matter - they're all great sails.

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20 minutes ago, Frogman56 said:

Very interesting, gentlemen.

One reason GPL hangs in better is that the lamination pressure is way up, so the laminate is less voidy and of lower adhesive content.

Looking on the DP website -- are you talking about GPL GraphX or Light Skin?     

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6 hours ago, samc99us said:

Nope, Raw 760 quotes from 2 years ago vs. today. As you say though, could just be a naming scheme.

The bottom line comes down to this: is a North 3Di Raw 760 #1 jib, or even a 780 #1 jib for a 40 foot racer/cruiser going to last 30% longer than the same sail built from DP's Carbon Sport? Is the North 3Di Endurance going to last 50% longer than a DP Carbon Sport/GPL liteskin sail? I'm not questioning the all-out performance benefits of 3Di when you factor weight and sail shape into the equation and ignore cost, but I'm basically asking is the North product, on a nominal 20% discount, 30-50% better than the comparable paneled sail from another high end sailmaker?

Well, let's see. The Ultime, IMOCA and Volvo 65 sails last well beyond a lap of the planet. No mylar laminates will do that. 

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11 hours ago, A3A said:

Well, let's see. The Ultime, IMOCA and Volvo 65 sails last well beyond a lap of the planet. No mylar laminates will do that. 

No doubt, but they are also the premier product, involved with the development and up against other constraints-i.e, you're very unlikely to get a molded Ultime sail from elsewhere due to mold size limitations outside Minden.

Anyway, its not an easy decision outside the grand prix level as the thermoplastics have come a long way too.

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13 hours ago, A3A said:

Well, let's see. The Ultime, IMOCA and Volvo 65 sails last well beyond a lap of the planet. No mylar laminates will do that. 

Wasn't there a discussion somewhere regarding the painted graphics on the VO65's had a big impact on reducing UV exposure and extending life?

Thats not a knock on the materials, just another piece to the longevity puzzle. 

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On 7/31/2020 at 10:45 AM, yoyo said:

Wasn't there a discussion somewhere regarding the painted graphics on the VO65's had a big impact on reducing UV exposure and extending life?

Thats not a knock on the materials, just another piece to the longevity puzzle. 

The VO65 sails were actually the aramid 3di that were painted to look black because aramid doesn't block sat phone signals in the same way carbon does. 

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21 hours ago, Guvacine said:

So, do I take it from reading this thread that 3Di would be as robust and long lasting as good quality Dacron cross cut sails for extended cruising?

Depends on what you mean by extended cruising. If you have a 5 year plan, the 3di endurance will hold the shape better. If you have a longer plan and don’t mind poor shape and heeling along? Dacron. 

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I have both a 3di raw and 3di nordac sails on my boat.  the raw is very nice, super light, its a 140% so I only really use it during the fall/winter here in SF bay.  My Nordac is a 100%  stays on the furler all summer, nice shape, super stout sail.   It is likely slightly heavier than a mid level regular dacron sail but I have no doubt that it will hold its shape much longer and resist UV better.  The raw is so light and nice I would likely go with a raw 100% or 90% and use a sleeve next time.  Just my experience.

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Conventional woven polyester (Dacron) is just fine for many people, and it is certainly the lowest initial cost for the basic sail membrane. No one can argue it isn't suitable because it has been doing the job for 65+ years and there are dozens of styles and weights to choose from. Any half reputable sailmaker can make a basic triangle with reasonable shape out of it, and on boats up to around 35', most people won't know the difference for the first couple of years. Then the resin finish softens up and bias stretch starts deteriorating the shape while chafe takes its toll on the stitching. As boat size increases, crosscut Dacron becomes less and less suitable because the low modulus and inefficient orientation of the fiber requires heavier base weights and more reinforcing.

3Di Ocean 330 NorDac starts with that same polyester fiber, but applies a completely different manufacturing process to end up with a membrane with infinitely better structural orientation throughout and much of the required reinforcement integrated instead of added on. The manufacturing process is essentially the same regardless of which fiber 3Di uses, and a RAW 880 carbon sail only differs in fiber content from Ocean 330. As sails get larger, 3Di can blend aramid or Ultra PE fibers with the poly to increase modulus without adding weight. Better fiber orientation and integrated reinforcements allow some reduction in overall weight, or in many cases, better shape and more control over it for about the same weight. Cruisers should keep in mind that most of the seam, batten pocket and reinforcement stitching that is so vulnerable to chafe is eliminated, greatly reducing long term maintenance. 

 

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I am looking at North Tour Xi.   They are laminate but supposedly hold their shape and lighter than Dacron.    I don't know if anyone has any opinions on these vs the 3Di.  They are similarly priced.

 

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Anyone with 3di Nordac experiencing mould and mildew problems within the membrane of the sail? We had one come through our loft to be sent for cleaning, the cleaning company who are well known in the UK south coast said it’s a problem at the moment. We have a nordac J3 on the SF3600 and I’ll be checking it soon

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19 minutes ago, JL92S said:

Anyone with 3di Nordac experiencing mould and mildew problems within the membrane of the sail? We had one come through our loft to be sent for cleaning, the cleaning company who are well known in the UK south coast said it’s a problem at the moment. We have a nordac J3 on the SF3600 and I’ll be checking it soon

Yes, I am getting persistent mildew on my Nordac J3 that survives loft cleaning. The membrane seems to get damp where the outer layer is compromised by stitching (batten pockets etc)

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12 hours ago, 964racer said:

 

I am looking at North Tour Xi.   They are laminate but supposedly hold their shape and lighter than Dacron.    I don't know if anyone has any opinions on these vs the 3Di.  They are similarly priced.

 

If they are close in price, I would go 3di. My experience however was the tour laminate sail was 30% less than the 370 3di quote and 40% less than the 760 endurance.  I think 3di is hard to beat when you ignore price.  Taking price into account, I have a hard time justifying the premium and am likely going with a lower cost option from another sail maker.

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On 8/11/2020 at 5:14 AM, T sailor said:

If they are close in price, I would go 3di. My experience however was the tour laminate sail was 30% less than the 370 3di quote and 40% less than the 760 endurance.  I think 3di is hard to beat when you ignore price.  Taking price into account, I have a hard time justifying the premium and am likely going with a lower cost option from another sail maker.

I'll get an exact quote on the 3di.   I only have the exact quotation (using all the real numbers from my boat) for the NorLam Xi Cruise (which is used by the "Tour") line.  It is not cheap we are talking almost 9K for a main and 100% jib (not including tax).  

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21 hours ago, 964racer said:

I only have the exact quotation (using all the real numbers from my boat) for the NorLam Xi Cruise (which is used by the "Tour") line.  It is not cheap we are talking almost 9K for a main and 100% jib (not including tax).  

For what size of boat (or sail size in sqft)?

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I use a 3Di raw #1 on my J/35.  It's been tremendous after one year.  It wasn't much more expensive compared to the other loft's tape/laminate offerings, but instead of getting one season out of it, it looks brand new except for a rub mark at one of the stanchions.  The 155s on these boats take a huge load and get beaten on, so this is a game changer.   Remarkable stuff, still perfect shape.  I believe about the VOR boats using them for a lap of the blue ball, then racing GPs with the same sails.  

The other thing about cost... we're a family / middle class program on one new sail per year.  This allows an extra year between #1 purchases in which a new spinnaker or other useful sail (like a #2 or #3) can be worked in.  If you race that adds some competitiveness. 

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On 8/13/2020 at 3:19 PM, Alex W said:

For what size of boat (or sail size in sqft)?

It’s an Ericson 33RH. About 300 sq ft for the main 250 for jib . It’s a pretty big main for a 33 .

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On 7/28/2020 at 9:18 AM, WANDERLUST said:

Hi everybody!

 

I am buying new PHRF sails for my J105, Can somebody tell me differences between 3DI and NPL sport xi Aramid? I would like to know if you think I have to spend more money and go for 3Di

Well, yes. I have 3Di L/M, M/H jibs and Tour xi HWJ. Spin staysail is sport xi. 3Di is completely different to for example old 3DL's. Trimming is a joy with 3Di.

My next set might be One Sails 4T Forte Naked, have not quite decided on that yet though...

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  • 4 months later...

hello to all, 

all those with 3di, what version of it you have? raw 360 or higher?
Is it good enough or do you need to go to 760?

Im considering buying a set of sails for my dufour 34 and trying to get arguments in the 3di 360 vs npl sport vs quantum fusion m5.

THX!

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  • 2 months later...
On 8/11/2020 at 4:42 PM, JL92S said:

Anyone with 3di Nordac experiencing mould and mildew problems within the membrane of the sail? We had one come through our loft to be sent for cleaning, the cleaning company who are well known in the UK south coast said it’s a problem at the moment. We have a nordac J3 on the SF3600 and I’ll be checking it soon

Yes.  I've had my North 3Di Nordacs for almost two years, sailing in SE Asia, and the mildew has blown up the sails. Some pics in case you want to see what 3Di can look like in the tropical heat.  North is in the process of replacing at no charge, so I'm still a happy customer, just disappointed that they did not last very long.

 

3di Nordac Mainsail.jpg

3di Nordac Genoa.jpg

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Thank you. That very nicely answers my question about whether they are susceptible to mildew and mold. 

This is - still - the Achilles heel of all laminate sails. 

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Yes, that mildew damage is depressing. Seems we are stuck with plain old Dacron.

Does North think the replacement sails will not Mildew, or do they advise a different storage practice?

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14 hours ago, DDW said:

Thank you. That very nicely answers my question about whether they are susceptible to mildew and mold. 

This is - still - the Achilles heel of all laminate sails. 

3Dis are not laminate sails.  They are similar in the fact that they don't breath like dacron or similar.  According to North, they forgot to add the anti-mildew treatment - hence them paying for new sails.  I will note, that on my North laminate sails - Norlam - I did not have any mildew for five years, in similar weather conditions...so there seems to be something amiss for sure with what happened.

 

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I’ve seen a few mouldy 3di polyester sails and one of our jobs is a nordac job and I keep a close eye on it. On the website they appear to have rebranded 3di nordac under 3di ocean instead as a material option.

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1 hour ago, JL92S said:

I’ve seen a few mouldy 3di polyester sails and one of our jobs is a nordac job and I keep a close eye on it. On the website they appear to have rebranded 3di nordac under 3di ocean instead as a material option.

Correct.  Lots of rebranding.  Maybe the have figured out the mould issue.  Not sure.  Norlam is more resistant to mildew than the 3Di Ocean.

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8 hours ago, mdsilvers said:

3Dis are not laminate sails.  They are similar in the fact that they don't breath like dacron or similar.  According to North, they forgot to add the anti-mildew treatment - hence them paying for new sails.  I will note, that on my North laminate sails - Norlam - I did not have any mildew for five years, in similar weather conditions...so there seems to be something amiss for sure with what happened.

 

Well, not laminated to mylar but laminated with glue nonetheless. It is my understanding that the glue is what feeds the mildew. For at least two decades, every year the sailmakers I talk to will say, "last year, we a mildew problem, but the materials have improved and now not a problem". Next year, they are saying the same thing. For decades. 

I'd sure love to hear that the problem is finally gone - but they've cried wolf so many times I am skeptical of any claim. I'm not sure it is actually possible, given that the sails are impermeable and therefore going to be wet 100% of the time. Even a sheet of pure plastic will grow mold under those circumstances. 

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2 minutes ago, DDW said:

....I'm not sure it is actually possible, given that the sails are impermeable and therefore going to be wet 100% of the time. Even a sheet of pure plastic will grow mold under those circumstances. 

If they are truly impermeable then two thing would be true: There would be no moisture inside the structure. The mold would be on the outside where it could be simply wiped off.

I suppose the silver lining is that less expensive Dacron has one advantage over its wanna-be usurpers.

Perhaps they should make these mildew sails only in black....disguise the issue.

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The mildew/mold does 'not' wipe off.  It is impregnated into the material.  I even tried, on a small area of the foot, to clean with straight bleach.  Nothing.  North says the forgot to add the mildew treatment.  That may be so, as the Norlam, which can be prone to mildew, fared FAR better for FAR longer than the 3Dis.  Regardless, grey or black 3Dis is my recommendation, and just buy another product that is less prone to mildew.  I doubt North will keep replacing these sails at no charge when they mildew like this in 18 months.

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I think the mildew grows in the glue. Dacron sails will mildew too, given sufficient provocation, but you can wash it off. I keep leaning towards Hydranet - sailmakers seem to hate it but owners seem to love it. 

Did your 3Di sails have taffeta on the surface? 

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No taffeta on the surface of the 3Dis.  Hydranet is a durable option, and mold will wash off.  For me personally, I would go for gray North laminates, as I've had good experience with this product and my code zero is North laminate.  After six years, still good, with very minimal (can't see easily) mold.

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It will be very interesting to see what North does with this product in the future for cruisers.  If I wasn't already getting a replacement 3di Oceans, I would upgrade to a higher tech, gray sail for just this issue - mold.  I'm a little uptight about putting the new sails on the boat once I receive them, due to mold.  The sails are mechanically just fine, but man the look TERRIBLE for being <2 years old.

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