It is one of those "everyone knows" facts of life in the sailing world: if you are designing, building or buying a world-class superyacht or racing boat, make sure you first talk to Southern Spars.

Founded locally and previously based at Westhaven, the relocated spar-maker - now owned by the North Technology Group - is one of the world's best in the business.

With its headquarters in the West Auckland suburb of Avondale, Southern Spars now boasts branches in the United States, Denmark, Spain and South Africa.

It also has a rather neat piece of new kit: a just-developed TPT plotter, based at the company's Custom Projects facility, which is also in Avondale.

TPT stands for "thin ply technology" and, says Southern Spars technology manager Wayne Smith, is about to revolutionise the world of laminate composites.

Smith says the TPT plotter allows Southern Spars' designers an almost unlimited amount of freedom when planning projects.

"Our designers now have the ability to design products using whichever ply angles are optimal for the loading situation at every point on the spar or boom," he says.

"The plotter then lays the carbon fibre laminate more accurately and efficiently than can be achieved by hand.

"It is also possible to individually position pieces rather than being required to lay all adjacent plies parallel to one another."

The use of TPT carbon fibre technology for manufacturing masts and booms stemmed from leading-edge sail materials technology developed by Createx of Cossonay in Switzerland for the 2007 America's Cup.

North Sails, also part of the North Technology Group, acquired the technology after the Cup and redefined the process to become North 3Di.

In 2009, research and development staff from North Sails and Southern Spars saw the potential in applying the 3Di material processing knowledge to rigid carbon fibre-epoxy composites.

Smith was one of those who played key roles in the extensive research and development programme that covered resin chemistry, tape processing, tape-laying techniques and lamination methods and which culminated in the creation of the new Southern Spars' TPT lamination process.

"The use of TPT has revolutionised the world of laminate composites by providing a more efficient and precise manufacturing process with no limitation to angle, area and thickness," Smith says. "In the future, we aim to plot all carbon products in TPT."

For Southern Spars director Mark Hauser, the installation of the automated TPT plotter is another step in the company's redevelopment of its New Zealand facilities. This saw staff and projects previously completed on two sites come together into the one purpose-built 10,000sq m factory in Avondale.

"The addition of the on-site TPT plotter provides yet another level of efficiency in our manufacturing process for the Custom Projects team," he says.

"The demand for larger and more technically advanced superyacht and grand-prix race rigs continues and, with our TPT technology, we are at the very forefront of industry developments."

Hauser says that adopting TPT carbon fibre laminate has allowed Southern Spars to use higher-quality laminates than its competitors.

"In turn, we are producing spars that are far lighter and stiffer than ever before."

He says the performance potential of Southern Spars' TPT process has already been proved by yachts such as the TP52s, 18ft skiffs and RP42s.

"These projects were built using TPT materials from Switzerland. Now, with a new TPT plotter located only a few metres away from the mast moulds, the pre-built TPT complexes are plotted as they are required."

Hauser and Smith clearly see TPT as the way of the future for the yachting world in general and Southern Spars in particular.

"The TPT plotter has pushed the technology, design and performance boundaries once again," says Hauser. "And this will be reflected in all the yachts stepped with one of our new TPT-based spar and rig packages."

TPT plotter
What: New thin-ply technology plotter

Where: Southern Spars' Custom Projects, Avondale

What: Creates a more efficient and precise manufacturing process with few limits to angle, area and thickness.