Vacuum panels – first prototypes

14th October 2014

2014-11-18 Vacuum prototype II 003_web 2014-11-18 Vacuum prototype II 005_web 2014-11-18 Vacuum prototype II 009_web 2014-11-18 Vacuum prototype II 012_web

Vacuum panels are brilliant. One can make a composite material that is entirely disasseblable! The materials are held together by removing the air between them, then released by simply adding air. The materials are not perforated by screws, not stuck to other materials with adhesives and not chemically bonded. This is ideal for this project that focuses on disassembly.

A panel is made up of two membranes and a core material. The applied vacuum provides extra rigidity so the core material can be made up of smaller elements. These elements can also be waste. I see this system having huge potential, both in terms of material variety and the possible “composites” resulting from this joining method in addition to application opportunities including facades, internal walls, simple room dividers and solar shading.

After initial prototyping it seems like the theory works – the materials are held in place through the use of vacuum, adding rigidity to the panel – even when using “soft” materials such as duvets and thin plastic.

I am now working on the following themes:

–       What materials to use for the core?
Ideally I would like to achieve a “full wall panel” with structure and insulation within the vacuumed membrane. Transparency is a bonus. I think this can be achieved through finding a grid/lattice structured material that forms air “pockets” within the vacuumed membrane (e.g. the toilet rolls in the prototype).

–       Material for the membrane?
The current membrane in the prototype is the plastic bag from Jysk made of 73% polyethylene and 27% Nylon. This material needs to be airtight. Transparency and resistance to bursting are great features.

–       How to avoid puncturing the membrane. i.e. releasing the vacuum?