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A better alternative for lightweight structures

The Wimacor bonding and moulding system enables components to be bonded together without the need for heavy mechanical pressure. It is ideal for producing a variety of sandwich materials that are cheaper, lighter, and as strong as conventional products – and offers new design opportunities as well. Using the system, up to 30% can be saved in costs and 40% in weight compared to conventional welded metal structures, for example, with no sacrifice in strength.

Traditionally, producing lightweight structures has required the use of heavy mechanical presses, the fixed width of which has also determined the dimensions of the materials produced. The surplus adhesive or insulation foam pressed out by these processes makes them messy, and waiting for adhesives to dry makes them slow as well. In addition, the durability of the bonds produced cannot always be relied on.

The Wimacor system, based on a highly efficient hand lay-up approach, guarantees much higher adhesive strength than traditional approaches, and eliminates wastage of insulation material and adhesives. Dangerous solvents have been replaced by safer solutions, thanks to the much improved pressure application management offered by the Wimacor system.

Better bonding…

The lightweight, patented Wimacor system uses 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 flexible Wimacor unit can process a number of materials simultaneously, and can handle materials in virtually any lengths and widths, both flat formats and three-dimensional shapes. Surface layers and inner cores are freely selectable in line with the needs of each application. Mould costs are low, which means that short production runs are possible.

…and stronger bonding

Extensive studies 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 press-based systems. 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

Machinable, weldable, and injectionmouldable components can be combined into sub-assemblies – and ducts, inlets, doors, and window structures can all be added during final assembly.

Through intelligent re-engineering, and prioritising ease of fabrication and assembly, the number of parts in a lightweight structure can be cut by an average of 40%.

In addition to superior strength and light weight, low overall cost has proved to be the most attractive feature of this technology for the hundreds of satisfied Wimacor customers – whether vehicle body-builders, construction companies supplying food processing plants and other units, manufacturers of electrical units, or boat-builders and aircraft manufacturers.

The Wimacor system lies behind the new kiosks recently produced for Valiojäätelö, Finland's leading ice-cream brand.
> Hannu Wilén
(Published in High Technology Finland )