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An easier way to produce lighter structures

The Wimacor system enables components to be bonded together without the need for heavy mechanical pressure, making it ideal for producing composite sandwich materials that are cheaper and lighter than conventional products – and at least as strong.

The need to use heavy, fixed-width mechanical presses to produce lightweight structures with conventional techniques often limits the range of dimensions that products can be supplied in. The surplus adhesive or insulation foam pressed out by these presses also tends to make things messy, while waiting for adhesives to dry can take a long time. The durability of the bonds produced cannot always be relied on either.

Based on a highly efficient hand lay-up approach, the patented Wimacor system guarantees much higher adhesive strength and eliminates wastage. Enhanced pressure management enables dangerous solvents to be replaced with safer alternatives. The Wimacor system does this by using a partial internal vacuum to create a compressive effect capable of creating sandwich materials that are airtight and hygienic – rapidly and cost-effectively.

Weighing only 450 kg, a Wimacor unit can process a number of materials simultaneously, and can handle virtually any length and width in any two-dimensional or three-dimensional shape. Surface layers and inner cores can be selected in line with the needs of the application; and, as mould costs are low, short production runs are not a problem.

It’s all in the vacuum

An ultra-light equipment housing featuring rounded corners produced using the Wimacor system.
Studies carried out by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have shown that adhesive coverage inside Wimacor-produced structures is some 20% better than in those produced by conventional systems. Other tests by VTT have confirmed that the Wimacor system also delivers in terms of fire resistance and overall compression strength.

As the strength of Wimacor adhesive bonds means that they can form part of load-bearing structures, large surfaces no longer need extensive welded or screwed joints to ensure sufficient overall torsional rigidity, and spot loads can be managed more effectively.

Machined, welded, and injection-moulded components can be combined into sub-assemblies – and ducts, inlets, doors, and window structures can all be easily added during final assembly.

Fewer parts and low er overall costs

Through intelligent reengineering and prioritising ease of fabrication and assembly, the number of parts in a Wimacor-produced lightweight structure can be 40% lower on average than in a comparable one produced using conventional techniques.

In addition to superior strength and light weight, low overall cost has proved to be an attractive feature of this technology for Wimacor’s customers – which include vehicle body-builders, construction companies supplying food processing plants and other units, manufacturers of electrical units, boat-builders, and aircraft manufacturers.

> Hannu Wilen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)