Lightweight composite panels can be used for a wide range of applications. The panel facings and cores can be changed to suit different purposes and industries so, when specifying a project, it’s important to understand the options available.
In this guide:
- How are lightweight panels made and how do they work? – Learn more about what lightweight panels are and why they’re suitable for so many applications
- Key applications of lightweight sandwich panels – Find out more about where lightweight sandwich panels can be used and the benefits
- Lightweight panel core materials – The core materials that can be used within lightweight panels to provide a variety of benefits
- Choosing Panel Systems as your supplier – Reasons to choose Panel Systems as a supplier of lightweight panels
How are lightweight panels made and how do they work?
Lightweight composite sandwich panels are manufactured with a core made from materials such as polypropylene honeycomb or XPS (Extruded Polystyrene) and faced each side with an outer and inner sheet material. These panels are commonly used for both indoor and outdoor applications for purposes such as Automotive partitioning, vehicle conversions, insulation, worktops, furniture, stage platforms and various industrial applications.
They are lightweight, strong and durable and can be produced in different ways to give them specific properties and make them better suited to specific uses. In recent years, they have become increasingly popular with manufacturers and contractors because they can help to reduce the weight of the finished products.
Lightweight sandwich panels are manufactured using an industrial adhesive to bond two thin facings (skins) onto a low-density core material. This core material provides the crucial separation between the facings. The facings are structurally adhered to the core and, when one skin is loaded with a bending force, that skin is in compression and the other in tension. The core provides the reinforcement that stabilises the skins, preventing them from buckling, so the panel has the strength to support a significant load whilst remaining lightweight and practical.
These panels provide a versatile, cost-effective solution for a wide range of applications. This is why they’re becoming a popular solution for so many industries.
Key applications of lightweight sandwich panels
Due to their low weight, high strength and insulating properties, lightweight sandwich panels have a wide range of applications. Some of the key uses include:
Van conversions and linings
Lightweight panels are often used in camper and commercial van conversions because they add little weight to the vehicle’s overall mass whilst creating superb insulation and strength properties where needed.
Lightweight panels are perfect for lining floors of temporary / portable buildings. These would replace timber-based panels which absorb moisture and are also difficult to handle.
Automotive and truck panels
Lightweight tuck body panels provide substantial weight savings when used instead of traditional plywood core panels.
Also available with a XPS Insulation core, these panels also help to reduce fuel costs as well as being highly beneficial in refrigerated vehicles for keeping the hold cool when transporting goods.
Lightweight furniture panels
Lightweight panels can be used to create thicker furniture panels for interior fit out projects. Panels used in this application are supplied with a variety of decorative facing materials and can provide strength and durability without being excessively heavy or expensive to produce.
Lightweight panels are also used as part of our portable lightweight staging system. The clever combination of birch plywood faces with a ThermHex polypropylene core, provide a solid platform for events whilst being light enough for ease of assembly.
In particular for window and curtain walling systems. Panels are available with a range of metal facings and cores to suit different performance criteria such as fire, thermal and acoustic
The versatility of lightweight sandwich panels makes them suitable for so many projects. This is especially true when there is a requirement to reduce weight without compromising strength and overall performance. They can be built to bespoke specifications and applied to a wide range of industries and requirements.
There are many other applications for lightweight sandwich panels. They are extremely versatile systems and can be produced from a wide range of composite materials. Both the facings and cores can be made using different materials with different thickness levels, all of which have their own properties that make them better suited to specific applications.
Lightweight panel core materials
The core material of lightweight sandwich panels is key as different cores are better suited to various applications. Whatever your requirements, you should have no problem finding the right sandwich panel for the job. However, it’s important to be aware of the different types of cores and their properties.
ThermHex polypropylene honeycomb panel core
ThermHex is an innovative polypropylene (PP) honeycomb that offers a weight savings of up to 85%, compared with other core materials, such as plywood. It is produced using a state-of-the-art, patented process which ensures rigidity in terms of its mechanical strength, as well as stability, ThermHex is resistant to chemicals and moisture. In addition, as part of ensuring ethical and sustainable sourcing of materials, it is also 100% recyclable.
ThermHex sheets are finished with a polypropylene barrier film and PET non-woven fibre, which enables easy bonding of various types of facing materials with all common adhesives, including polyurethane based glues. ThermHex is both light in weight and strong making it suitable for a wide range of applications including automotive, truck bodies, marine, OEM, industrial equipment, water jet cutting, caravan, camper and motorhome markets.
Larcore is an aluminium honeycomb panel faced with primed aluminium skins which can be painted or used for bonding additional surfaces. Due to its high structural and fire resisting properties, it is used in sectors such as marine, railway and high-end industrial applications.
This is an extruded polystyrene, which is a lightweight and rigid foam board. It is strong, moisture resistant, and highly durable as a panel core. It also has excellent thermal properties with a thermal conductivity as low as 0.031 W/m.K The process of extruding polystyrene produces a material with small, closed cells which provides properties that are perfect for insulation and being used within lightweight structural panels.
Mineral Fibre Lamella
Nexus Mineral Fibre Lamella provides a fire-safe stone wool core for composite structures such as architectural panels and doors. This material provides a cost-effective, rigid core to be used wherever thermal, fire, and acoustic insulation is required within a bonded composite structure.
Stone wool is manufactured from volcanic rock that has melted in a furnace. The molten product is then spun into a wool-like substance that has excellent fire, acoustic and thermal properties. The unique Lamella process takes this insulating material which is then cut into strips and rotated through 90 degrees, so the fibres are perpendicular to the finished panel surface.
It’s helpful to have expert advice on choosing the right panels for your specific application. It is also helpful to work with a supplier who can handle the processes such as design, production and cutting in-house to simplify the process of getting the composite panels ready for your application.
Choosing Panel Systems as your supplier
The team at Panel Systems is highly experienced with lightweight sandwich panels and can assist with material selection in order to determine the right specification for your project.
Panel Systems not only offers this expertise, we also provide an in-house CAD design and CNC cutting service so we can handle your project all the way through, with advice on-hand whenever you need it.
This gives us the ability to handle bespoke projects and no project is too large or small. We work with clients of all sizes who require panel solutions for a wide range of purposes and always deliver on our client’s needs.
Panel Systems supply both the panels and a bespoke cutting and fabrication service so we can have them ready for your desired application upon delivery. From initial consultation to design to production, we provide a full-service solution to help you produce the perfect panels for your project. We also have a diverse range of facing and core material options, increasing our versatility to suit the widest possible range of clients.
If you need lightweight sandwich panels for your project and would like expert advice, please contact our team today.