Export awards

FI Innovations has been selected as a Finalist in the 2018 Export Southland award for innovation. Check out the Southland Times newspaper article “Southland export innovation award finalists named

We’re thrilled to be chosen in this category. The winners will be announced at a gala dinner in Invercargill on 21 September.

More about Export Southland

This year, we’ve begun exporting our custom polyurethane handles to the Bell Bay smelter in Tasmania. Because they are non-conductive, they use them on the tools that sample the molten aluminium. In addition, urethane’s shock-absorbing qualities make our handles ideal for manipulating the long, heavy tools that remove ‘crud’ from the pots.

More later about our urethane range.

In the ‘export’ space, you could also count F-I assisting companies who export locally-made products, such as manufacturing composite parts for Stabicraft and foam-filling their buoyancy pontoons. In addition, we’ve helped food exporters such as Fonterra, Blue River Dairy and Alliance by maintaining and improving their production facilities.

Posted in Awards |

Infusion Confusion

Infusion confusion? 

Have you ever wondered how we do it? How we make high-tech carbon fibre parts?

You know, only having to handle dry fabrics – never struggling to line up sticky, stubborn layers? How you squish the layers together so tightly? How you get the liquid resin in without touching it? And there’s none of the usual fibreglass smell?

Royce, one of our composites apprentices, has it nailed. We’ll let his short video show you.

Seems so simple, eh? Not really, but you develop the knack.

For the technophiles among you, we load the mould with the carbon fabric and other structural elements, then arrange the release and flow layers on top. This is all sealed with a custom-made reusable silicone bag (in this infusion video, we use a transparent vacuum bag, so you can see what’s happening). Then we apply a 99% vacuum to compress the laminate, eliminate almost all the air and draw the catalysed resin through the part. After about 6 hours initial cure, we remove the vacuum bag and other consumables. Next day after heat curing, we pop the shiny carbon part out of its mould.

In the resin infusion video, we are making a carbon fibre foredeck/dash panel. We join it to four other parts to make a stunning composite cuddy cabin for Stabicraft’s award-winning ‘Project Carbon’ Fisher 1600 powerboat.

More info on this modern technique on our Resin Infusion page.

Posted in Carbon fibre, Composites, Marine, Resin infusion |

Flying Disc Fanatics

Disc golf has arrived in town. Did you see all the players in Queens Park on that wet April weekend? Multitudes of frantic disc golfers braving the weather to fling flying discs around an 18 ‘hole’ course.

The inaugural Invercargill tournament was hosted on 21-22 April by Disc Golf South, a new sports club formed last year.

Gareth, our Managing Director, is a keen disc golf man. He loves the challenge of aiming his favourite flying disc (sorry, it’s no longer called a “Frisbee”) to land in each purpose-built metal ‘basket’.


Club President, Marty Conway, commented “What an awesome weekend! Thanks to everyone that took part, to all the helpers, to our funders and sponsors and to the local organisations that helped us along the way. 98 players from around the country took to the course, which is a record number for these tournaments in NZ!”

FI Innovations staff made each of the carbon fibre discs for the 10 spectacular trophies. Ocean Shell from Riverton crafted the wooden stands and added the paua shell detail. 

Check out the photos of these masterpieces.

Posted in Carbon fibre, Composites, Sport + Recreation |

Sheep milk what?

Sheep milk production is one of the activities at Blue River Dairy’s Invercargill factory. They stop over Christmas, so the company asked FI Innovations to do some mid-season upgrades.

A few days before Christmas, our flooring crew descended on Blue River Dairy. Over 2 days the boys ground, spot-filled and sealed the concrete floor of the infant formula ‘can packing’ room. Finally they laid a durable surface of non-slip, hygienic Sikafloor epoxy resin. Everyone was relieved to finish on Christmas Eve, so they could join their families for a well-earned holiday.

Check out our YouTube video showing this flooring project. Credit to Royce’s time-lapse and video editing skills.

Blue River Dairy began 10 years ago as a specialist sheep milk company, producing infant milk formula and cheeses. Feta, haloumi, cheddar and pecorino are their specialties. They have since expanded into China exporting a range of infant nutrition products based on goat, cow and sheep milk.

Posted in Flooring, Industrial |

Sputnik playground

Lift off. The Sputnik playground from Te Anau’s waterfront has been refurbished by Fi Innovations.  This play equipment, with its eye-catching giant red ‘satellite’ balls, yellow tunnels and blue frames, has been a long-time favourite with children.

Thousands of enthusiastic children had worn through the gelcoat on the slides. The sun and rain had weathered the exterior. Quite a job, but a very worthwhile project.

First stage was to dismantle the components and load them onto a big truck for transport to Invercargill.

Back at our workshop, the fibreglass parts were repaired, re-gelcoated and/or re-painted.

Before Christmas, it was all transported back to Lion’s Park and re-assembled. This upgrade ensures that future generations of kids can enjoy this iconic ‘space age’ feature.

More info on Te Anau and its parks

Posted in Civil Infrastructure, Fibreglass |

Hand Basins for Big Boy’s Toys

Hand basins as industrial art? A digger bucket for the guys. That’s awesome – just what you need at a digger park! And ‘hard-hat’ basins for the ladies. Fantastic! 

FI Innovations created a life-size fibreglass digger bucket as the twin hand basins in the men’s toilets at Dig ThisInvercargill’s ground-breaking new attraction. We fashioned two oversize fibreglass hard-hats for the ladies to wash their hands in. These ‘safety yellow’ basins, with their brass taps and copper pipes, have an endearing industrial look.

Dig This is a heavy equipment playground, where young and old can live the childhood dream to be a digger, bulldozer or loader driver.  Marketed as “Quirky and crazy in a good way”, this experience is a hit with all ages, and not just the boys.

Be sure to try out Dig This and while you’re there, check out our bathroom handywork! 

More info on Dig This at www.transportworld.co.nz/dig-this

Posted in Fibreglass, Industrial, Tourism |

Praise Showered

Praise showered on Fi Innovations by Real Journeys for our craftsmanship.  We refurbished over 30 shower cubicles on their big “Milford Mariner” tourist boat.

Cubicle after cubicle – it never seemed to end. Stan and Reece made countless trips up and down steps, and along the narrow corridors, as they measured, cut and carefully fitted each shower panel. Meanwhile Pete and the workshop boys worked hard to make 105 fibreglass flat panels and prep up nearly 300 metres of pultruded corner angle.

Well done guys on a marathon effort – the showers look great.

After the winter maintenance at Bluff is completed, the Mariner will sail back around to Fiordland for the upcoming tourist season.

Enjoy an overnight cruise on the Mariner at Milford Sound. More info at Real Journeys “Milford Sound Nature Cruises”

Posted in Boat-building, Fibreglass, Marine, Tourism |

Stunning river stone

Stunning river stone tabletops, destined for the Rees Hotel in Queenstown, were painstakingly crafted at Fi Innovations’ workshop in Invercargill.

It was a long and delicate process, requiring much patience – machine, prime and sand each plywood base; machine, cut, sand and glue the oak timber edging; clean the individual stones; accurately level each top; get everything to the optimum temperature; mix and pour the clear doming resin. After all that, vigilance was required to remove the pesky air bubbles that appeared as the resin slowly cured.

The result is very impressive. We hope that the guests who dine at the restaurant will appreciate our efforts, as they gaze at the stunning views of Frankton Arm and the Remarkables.

Posted in Coatings, Tourism |

Full-carbon Snare Drum

Peter Robertson, who owns Hunter Custom Drums, picked up two more full-carbon fibre snare drum shells from us today.

After assembling the drums, Peter will take them this weekend to the Finn Brothers studio in Auckland. Hopefully the musos will like them and Peter will get more orders.

The prototype full-carbon drum we infused for Peter was featured at the Auckland Drum Fest. Russ Miller, one of the world’s best session drummers, raved about it, so he took it home to Los Angeles to use.

Posted in Carbon fibre, Music, Resin infusion |

Speedway to the World Cup

Speedway enthusiasts are right behind the two Southland teams who are heading to Australia soon to compete in the Speedway World Cup and the first round of the Oceania series.

Fi Innovations have contributed to their costs. We wish Aiden Thwaites and Shane Twiss (riding sidecar number 58i) and James Douglas and Harley Biddle (riding 44i) all the best for their campaign.  We hope you bring home the silverware.

Hopefully you keep the bikes and yourselves in one piece, so we don’t see you bringing broken bike fairings after the racing.

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Posted in Fibreglass, Transport |