Marine ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles)

Enhance the performance of marine ROVs with engineering plastics

Plastic materials are lightweight, corrosion resistant, and durable, which makes them excellent choices for use in marine ROVs. Curbell Plastics understands the challenges associated with designing equipment for marine environments. We supply materials that deliver the best performance for underwater vehicle applications.

Plastics commonly used in ROV and subsea applications:

Plastics can be thermoformed or easily machined into components for subsea equipment. Frames, thruster nozzles, camera lens domes, and other fabricated parts are capable of tolerating extended periods in either fresh or salt water when fashioned from the right plastic.

Polymers can be used to insulate electronics and some plastics are transparent to the RF signals used for wireless control of ROVs. Plastic materials are available in formulations with low friction and long wear life. Friction and wear grade plastics do not require external lubrication and they are gentle on mating metal parts such as claws.

These properties can increase the performance of marine ROVs.

Plastics for remotely operated underwater subsea vehicles. Learn more at Curbell Plastics.
Plastics can be thermoformed or easily machined into components for remotely operated subsea equipment. Learn more at Curbell Plastics.

Materials for deep-water application challenges

Curbell Plastics has a long history working with industries that operate in underwater environments. Oil and gas, offshore construction, scientific research, and the fishing industry use ROVs to inspect equipment and explore deep-water habitats. Our plastics experts are happy to share our knowledge with engineers looking for solutions to their design challenges.

Curbell assists with: 

  • Plastic material selection
  • Plastic part design
  • Supply chain and inventory management
  • Plastic sheet, rod, and tube cut-to-size to meet your requirements
  • Prototype development
  • Machined plastic parts
  • Thermoformed plastic parts

Typical plastic applications on ROVs

  • Frames
  • Thruster nozzles
  • Camera lens domes
  • Bearings and bushings
  • Structural Parts
  • Sheaves

Why plastic materials for ROV?

Many high-performance engineering plastics are suitable for use in marine environments. Curbell’s plastics experts can provide engineers with technical information so they can choose the best polymers for their applications.

Typical characteristics of high-performance plastics:

  • Do not rust
  • Friction and wear grades don’t require external lubrication
  • Can operate throughout a wide temperature range
  • Electrical insulating properties
  • Tough, impact resistant, and tolerate vibration and abrasion
  • Design freedom, including many color and surface texture options
  • Good sealing characteristics
  • Optically transparent grades available
  • RF transparent grades available

Advantages of plastic materials for Marine ROVs

Some plastic materials are inherently UV stable and some are available with additives that extend their life in outdoor applications.

Neutral buoyancy
A properly weighted ROV can make a difference in performance. Lightweight plastic can help offset the weight of metal components. When neutral buoyancy is achieved, energy efficiency increases.

Optical clarity
Capture what’s under the water’s surface with a crystal-clear acrylic camera lens dome. Acrylic domes provide the optical clarity needed as a lightweight but sturdy glass alternative.

ROVs are expected to sustain mild impacts from transportation, handling, and collisions during underwater navigation. Frames built from durable plastics can withstand low impact from bumps and minor collisions with reefs and underwater equipment.

Marine Environment
Underwater applications require special consideration when choosing materials. Most (but not all) plastics have low water absorption and maintain their mechanical properties in marine environments.

Plastics can help make ROVs more affordable and cut the weight, helping ease the overall cost of mobilizing an ROV.

ROVs are often manufactured from engineering thermoplastics, many of which can be recyclable at the end of the vehicle’s service life.

Fabrication and machining services

Take advantage of our plastic fabrication and machining services to save time and money on plastic parts. Utilizing in-house capabilities and partnering with fabrication specialists we provide customers with reliable fabrication solutions, machined parts and cut-to-size materials for any application.

Quote your project

Which plastic materials are right for your ROV application? Contact us today.

With access to the latest high-performance materials — and the expertise to assist with selection and troubleshooting — Curbell Plastics can help you with all of your marine remote operated vehicle challenges.

We serve customers in all corners of the United States and into Canada from locations nationwide, and we have distribution centers in several areas that are crucial for the ROV industry. We have ISO 9001 certification for multiple locations, and we maintain ITAR and EAR compliance company-wide.

Call 1-800-553-0335 | Ask a Plastics Expert | Explore Our Materials

Frequently Asked Questions
Can plastics be used in outdoor environments?

Certain plastics such as acrylic, Ultem®, PVDF, and PTFE are inherently UV stable. However, most plastic materials exhibit color change and loss of elongation when exposed to UV light.

The weathering resistance of plastics can be improved by adding UV stabilizers or UV resistant caps to protect the base polymer

Will the properties of plastic materials change when they are submerged in water?

Most engineering plastics will maintain their mechanical properties when submerged in water. Exceptions including nylon 6 and nylon 6/6, which will become softer and tougher and have lower strength and modulus when they absorb water.

Can plastic materials save weight compared with metals?

Engineering plastics are approximately 1/7 the specific gravity of steel. Plastics are often specified when weight savings are required.

How durable are plastic materials?

The toughness of plastic materials is measured a number of different ways including the material’s tensile elongation and notched izod impact strength. Some plastics including polycarbonate, flexible polyurethane, and UHMW-PE are extremely tough and durable.

Which plastics should I used for friction and wear applications?

Semicrystalline thermoplastics such as UHMW-PE, nylon, and acetal are often used for friction and wear applications. These materials are available with additives to enhance their friction and wear properties.