Let The Testing Begin

Updated: Nov 10, 2018

Materials started arriving ready for testing. Initial test pieces include two types of sandwich skins (aluminium honeycomb and vermiculite), fire resistant skin, some pre-preg fibreglass, adhesive film, raw aluminium honeycomb, polyurethane expanding foam and some cloth carbon fibre. These initial samples are mainly requested so we can do a fire test later in this week to make sure the vermiculite performs the way we hope. Based on that we will order the main product.

This is the aluminium core sandwich. Lighter and perhaps a little stiffer than expected. Very straight and quite a smooth surface all of which is important for our objectives.

This is the vermiculite. Not quite as heave as I expected. Whiter and more aerated than expected. Quite a rigid and tough material. This panel is stiffer than the aluminium one which is interesting.

Both of these have a yellowish colour which is the fibreglass / resin / adhesive combination. The vermiculite finish has some 'roughness' - I will querie the manufacture why this is the case as both panels were done the same way - I expect as done in a hot-press machine the heat created energy (hot air bubbles) which were absorbed in the honeycomb, but 'pushed back' with the vermiculite creating this roughness. Its not really an issue (generally) but more curious.

I have set up a temp testing station within a 6m shipping container and have some basic test equipment including a video recorder so we can capture and present results.

First we will do some experiments just to settle some queries that have been unsettled in my mind for the past few months. Most of these are based on the way the final products will look (not perform).


  1. Create Carbon Fibre Studs

  2. Assemble a mock mini wall panel

  3. Fill Cavity with Expanding Foam

  4. Bonding wall paper over joins

  5. Painting wall sheet

The result will be a very realistic mini panel with around 80% of the strength we expect to see with the final product (because the carbon fibre stud is by far inferior), but 100% of the thermal and acoustic properties.

Create Carbon Fibre Studs

The 'real' carbon fibre studs are very complex, expensive and not ready to produce, so this has to wait. For the purpose of this experiment I am going to use some timber studs.

Experiment with finish of paper

This is one of the most important things we are doing. The finish of the walls are critical to ensure they look like any other standard house paint over plaster wall. So using two different weights of paper with two different techniques we have 4 outcomes to examine.

This is the test pieces immediately after resin was applied to cure. Top 2 are 180gsm; bottom are 150gsm.

Left are bonded from below (my preference), right is resin applied from above.

These are bonded to an actual vermiculite panel so outcome is accurate.

Paper with first coat of paint.

Observation: Resin applied on top seemed to have the paint soak in slower.

Paint applied well, initial look is fine.

Second coat applied.

All looked fine. Second coat easy to apply.

Definitely the 150gsm tissue was less obvious and the better option. Whether resin applied on top or bottom didnt really make a big difference.

I think what will be the biggest issue is the joining which is something we are experimenting next. Having a join which will be near impossible to match the rougher tissue with a smoother gap filler will become an issue.

It is likely the wall will need to be smooth so joins are easier to conceal. The good news is the way I expect the tissue to be applied will be done completely different to this (down upside down with resin laying on the flat surface) - so all that would need to be factored is additional resin to keep smooth - rest is already part of the process.

The good thing from this experiment is the early indication that the finished wall (once painted with standard house paint) will look like any other traditional wall. This is important.

Assemble a mock mini wall panel

(info to come)

Fill Cavity with Expanding Foam

Filling the cavity didnt go to plan. This is OK as it wasnt filled using the same technique as will be used for final product.

The wall panel was sitting upright. The foam part A and part B was measured and mixed and poured into the upstanding panel. What happened was as the foam expanded, it blew the walls open (sounds worse than what it was). First the walls were only bonded with some poor-mans glue laying around the house, and it wasnt fully cured. Regardless, what I discovered is apart from the walls delaminating, there is a lot of energy / forced created by this foam expanding. So even if the walls didn't delaminate, the force would have pushed the outer skin to the point where it would have warped which is not acceptable (end result means a wall not flush).

The final panels intent was to pour foam in the cavity while they are laying flat. This would be a much better option and from what I saw today will work significantly better. So the right amount of foam would need to be worked out as excess foam liquid will want to push out. The other thing to note would be to apply some weight on the final panels while the foam sets to ensure that there is no unnecessary warping.

So even though not a success, some great knowlege was learnt from this.

Tomorrow I will do another pour but with panel laying flat.

Bonding wall paper over joins

(info to come)

Painting wall sheet

(info to come)

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