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Royalex is a composite material, comprising an outer layer of vinyl and hard acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic (ABS) and an inner layer of ABS foam. The layers are bonded by heat treatment.[1] It is used for manufacture of durable, mid-priced canoes.


Royalex was developed by the Uniroyal company in the 1970s,[2] and became a replacement for aluminum in canoe building, which canoeist Kent Ford described as "noisy, heavy and hot."[3]

In 2000 the Spartech Corporation took over the Uniroyal Royalex Manufacturing Division and secured the rights to manufacture Royalex at their factory in Warsaw, Indiana.[4]

In 2013, plastics company PolyOne, of Avon Lake, Ohio purchased Spartech, and decided to shut down Royalex production due to its low volume. The last sheets of Royalex were shipped from the factory in December, 2013.[2] Production will be shut down in April 2014.[5]

If another manufacturer does not emerge, existing Royalex canoes in retail outlets may be sold out by 2015.[5]


The best known use of Royalex is for the manufacture of canoe hulls. Royalex is lighter, more resistant to UV damage from sunlight, is more rigid, and has greater structural memory than non-composite plastics used for this purpose, such as polyethylene. It is also quieter, faster, and more user friendly in cold or hot conditions than aluminium. Royalex canoes are, however, more expensive than aluminium canoes or canoes made from traditionally molded or roto-molded polyethylene hulls.[1] "Royalex was soft, quiet and slippery on rocks, and not too heavy if you kept the gunwales light,” according to Kent Ford.[3]

Royalex is heavier than fiber-reinforced composites, such as fiberglass, Kevlar, or graphite, and therefore less suited for high-performance paddling. However, Royalex is cheaper than Kevlar or carbon fiber, with better durability on rocky rivers.[2] Royalex canoes are lighter than polyethylene canoes.[6]

The PolyOne factory in Warsaw, Indiana was the sole-source supplier of Royalex. Equivalent materials for canoemakers do not exist as of January 2014.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Royalex (RX)". Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d Chaney, Rob (2014-01-22). "Canoe-makers losing key material for molding boats". The Missoulian. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  3. ^ a b Buchanan, Eugene (2013-08-15). "Hasta Luego, Royalex Canoe". Canoe & Kayak magazine. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  4. ^ "Plastics and Whitewater Boats". Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Royalex: Dead In The Water: Revolutionary 35-year-old boat material bites the dust". Rapid Media Whitewater: 2014 Paddling Buyer’s Guide. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  6. ^ Buchanan, Eugene (2013-08-15). "Hasta Luego, Royalex Canoe". Canoe & Kayak magazine. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 

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