The assembly plan for the new shelter, utilising typical IKEA packing concept. Picture courtesy of IKEA Foundation
Provider of plastics processing technologies, Cannon, has provided the thermoforming equipment for a project to produce innovative modular shelters for refugee families.
The shelters are being manufactured by Swedish thermoformers, SAFEMAN, in partnership with the IKEA Foundation, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Better Shelter, a social venture, to provide refugees with a more dignified standard of living.
The project is developing and testing the shelters to replace many of the existing textile or plastic versions currently used in refugee camps, which have a short lifespan owing to the impact of weather and climate on the structures.
The new prototypes are smart, portable structures designed to be easily erected and dismantled, as well as being easy to carry.
A tubular steel structure, similar to that used for camping tents, supports modular panelling elements for the roof and the walls: these panels, made by thermoforming rectangular sheets of expanded TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin), are characterised by an excellent resistance to UVs and rain.
The lightweight panels are fixed one another through simple plastic buttons and, when installed, guarantee a certain degree of thermal insulation, form a complete seal to light, wind and rain, whilst ensuring the privacy of the family living in the shelter – a common criticism of the textile shelters.
The project, started in 2008, required a number of refinements prior to the finalisation of the ideal shelter.
When the decision was made to use thermoformed plastic walls and roofs, NORTEC-Cannon AS, Cannon’s Northern European agency, was consulted by SAFEMAN for the supply of an industrial solution able to provide the high number of parts quickly and economically.
Cannon Ergos – the Cannon Group’s plastics engineering unit dedicated to the construction of turnkey plants – conceived, tested and proposed a complete production solution, whilst offering its laboratory facilities to supply the desired prototypes for the field tests.
The suggested thermoforming solution aimed to produce a totally trim-less panel: no peripheral scrap is generated in this project, contributing to the economy and the environmental friendliness of the process.
The plant, supplied by Cannon Ergos in the first quarter of 2015, includes the completely automatic equipment to thermoform the panels, from the loading bays to the unloading station, capable of producing 1,000,000 components/year.
THE IKEA FOUNDATION is developing and testing a better home for refugee families.CANNON provided to the Swedish thermoformers, SAFEMAN, the innovative equipment required to produce the plastic modular shelter.(*) Pictures courtesy IKEA FOUNDATION