ThermHex Waben, producer of honeycomb cores for economic sandwich panels and parts, and Panel Systems, a British supplier of insulated panels, are celebrating the introduction of lightweight polypropylene honeycomb core in the elevated roofs of 2,000 Ford, Volkswagen and other camper vans.
The demand for the roof panels has increased significantly and is so successful because the honeycomb is up to 80% lighter than the alternative material – plywood and does not have severe operational problems in the rain. If plywood gets wet, it disintegrates and becomes much heavier.
The panels with the ThermHex’s honeycomb cores, on the other hand, not only being significantly lighter also have additional benefits. These include maintaining full functionality if wet. It forms part of a layer in the underside of the roof and provides a firm foundation for the other layers including ABS polymer. This polymer becomes soft in hot weather, but the honeycomb maintains the stability and firmness needed.
The honeycomb cores are extremely strong and rigid, but can be shaped as required, all properties that make it appealing to the leisure vehicle industry. Manufactured in a patented process, it is resistant to chemicals and moisture. In addition, as part of ensuring ethical and sustainable sourcing of materials, it is also 100% recyclable.
Panel Systems and ThermHex Waben have been working in partnership since July 2012. The honeycomb panels are being deployed in the lining of flooring and side panels of caravans and motorhomes, as well as internal features such as furniture. Since July 2018 the lighter panels are helping to improve the camper vans’ fuel efficiency.
Andy Taylor, Product Manager of Panel Systems Group, commented: “The ThermHex honeycomb core is a fantastically versatile material. It provides a firm foundation to wrap the other layers around, giving a lightweight structure that can withstand all weathers and conditions.
“It’s easy to work with and produces a strong and stable structure, with a beautiful finish. We are now looking at other applications where the innovative material might be introduced.”
Dr Jochen Pflug, CEO of ThermHex Waben, said: “Panel Systems is using the properties of our honeycomb perfectly – producing real benefits for their camper van customers across the globe. They have reduced the weight of the roof and at the same time made it more durable. A win-win for their customers and the environment. We are looking forward to an exciting future of our partnership.”
Recently ThermHex Waben launched a new core, with a reduction in cell size of almost 50%. It has a height of 20mm and cell size of 5mm.
Such a small cell size leads to a better surface quality and enables the use of the core in even more applications, such as visible interior and exterior surfaces in automotive, as it achieves “Class A” surface quality depending on the skin layer.
The polypropylene (PP) honeycomb cores are used wherever high-quality products with an optimum strength to weight ratio are required. This includes automotive, boat, yacht, and shipbuilding, interior and furniture, building and construction, and wind and solar energy, swimming pools and prefabricated bathrooms.
The company would like to enlarge its network around the globe and is looking for more distributors especially in Europe and the USA.
Reducing the environmental impact during the production of honeycomb cores and offering a lightweight but stiff core material at competitive prices is central to ThermHex Waben’s production process.
All honeycomb cores are recyclable, are resistant to moisture, acids and bases (reducing replacement costs), and ThermHex Waben is working towards a CO2 neutral product. Since July this year, ThermHex Waben has been using green power for the production of its honeycomb cores. The production is based on electricity from renewable sources. The processing and monitoring of the green power supply is certified according to TÜV SÜD CMS Standard 92. This guarantees a reliable and traceable procurement, balancing and delivery of electrical energy from renewable sources.
ThermHex Waben GmbH started its production in 2010 and is a licensee of EconCore NV (Belgium), the technology leader for cost-efficient sandwich material production technologies.