The framework and thermal insulation of air handling units must meet very specific requirements, linked not only to the technical parameters of their use, but also increasingly to cost optimisation.
New challenges in the HVAC industry
Today, user expectations for air handling systems demand good unit performance, silent running, compactness, and attractive design.
These new client needs entail new and significant challenges for the HVAC and HVACR industry. Ensuring top performance parameters in air handling systems is no longer the only factor manufacturers in this sector have to consider, they also need to provide acoustic insulation, space savings, and the added bonus of good design that brings balance and visual appeal to the area where they are installed.
New trends in machinery in the HVAC industry
To satisfy new user needs, HVAC units are increasingly compact, multifunctional, and exclusive in appearance. Similarly, materials are now more modern, flexible, and able to provide good thermal and acoustic insulation to deliver optimal energy efficiency.
Expanded Polypropylene: the ideal expanded foam for new needs in the HVAC sector
The HVAC industry has found Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) to be the perfect material for producing advanced engineering designs drawn up using 3D technology. This practice enables the industry to respond to the challenges mentioned above whilst optimising production costs.
EPP is an expanded plastic material with properties that make it ideal for HVAC appliances, both in the manufacturing of frameworks and internal components. It manages to combine excellent performance in thermal and acoustic insulation with impressive mechanical strength.
Another advantage of Expanded Polypropylene is that it is very flexible in the design of all types of components, which massively simplifies assembly and installation processes, which, in turn, reduces production costs.
EPP offers versatile design in complex settings
Designing pressure pump and hydraulic distributor insulation is especially challenging, as it has to take into account a series of technical requirements concerning, to mention just a few, the energy efficiency of the unit, its useful life (which should be as long as possible), component properties, and acoustic comfort.
Preventing heat loss in heating units, the primary function of thermal insulation, requires materials with low thermal conductivity (the ideal level is approximately 0.040 W/mK). This insulation must also protect units against all types of damage and prevent fractures caused by the reaction of hot steam to pressure. Expanded Polypropylene is a material that fully meets all these requirements and characteristics.
EPP is extremely lightweight and highly resistant to breakage and deformation, which makes it suitable for complex shapes. This ease of assembly is a highly useful property in the manufacturing of HVAC units, as it makes possible:
- Tailor-made framework design to protect appliances whilst improving efficiency and operation.
- Modular insulation creation as a means of optimising functionality and practicality.
- Unit design fine-tuning, a feature which users increasingly appreciate, as, especially in single-family houses, they are usually installed in visible locations.
The digital design process for HVAC parts at Knauf Industries
At Knauf Industries we know that today’s requirements and demands for HVAC appliances involve a meticulous and complex work process, especially when the end goal is industrial components of outstanding technical and visual quality. We are guided by two key methodologies: digital rendering techniques to create prototypes that can be analysed and verified prior to manufacturing the final product and our client-focused approach to involve them closely in all the different phases of the project.
Graphic design software has been a big step forward for the HVAC sector, as it brings the ability to simulate the manufacturing of products made in EPP from two angles: functionality and appearance In this initial project stage needs and unit requirements can be identified accurately and the scope of the design work can be laid out. This is clearly the best way to optimise processes and costs.
Defining and submitting the final documentation of EPP products in 3D yields a machined prototype, for testing and verification by the client. This allows us to detect any possible nonconformities and make all necessary design changes, which is critical to ensuring functional parameters and the overall look of the unit.
The 3D prototype is submitted to the client, who can either accept it in this phase or make their own recommendations. This is an even more useful benefit in the design and manufacture of individualized components for HVACR units, since it is a fantastic way to iron out a series of not easily balanced technical and visual requirements.
Once the machined prototype is accepted by the client, preparation of the toolset, which will subsequently be used on the assembly line, begins. A standard procedure connected to the final approval of the product is the manufacturing of an EPP product using an aluminium mould. The client then verifies the samples produced so far, alongside approving the final properties and requirements.
The last step in implementation is the final approval of the samples by the client, after which the mass production plan is confirmed by the provider.
Our long experience as a manufacturer of mouldable plastic components means we can confirm that this production system is highly efficient and ensures the creation of the desired final product. This is a work system that can satisfy all client expectations, as well as deliver additional benefits, such as time and cost savings, risk reduction, enhanced warehouse logistics, and packaging system improvements.
At Knauf Industries we listen closely to client requirements and focus on every detail to ensure that the EPP technical parts we make add value to their products. We are fully aware of all these aspects and so we use the latest tools for a much more flexible approach to client needs.