Bees are very smart creatures. So why not learn from them? Man-made honeycomb structures have the geometry of a honeycomb to maximize strength and to minimize the amount of material used to reach minimal weight and minimal material cost.
An array of hollow cells formed between thin vertical walls
The geometry of honeycomb structures can vary widely, but the common feature of all such structures is an array of hollow cells formed between thin vertical walls. The cells are often columnar and hexagonal in shape. A honeycomb-shaped structure provides a material with minimal density and relatively high out-of-plane compression properties and out-of-plane shear properties.
Honeycomb materials for flat or slightly curved surfaces with high specific strength
Man-made honeycomb structural materials are commonly made by layering a honeycomb material between two thin layers that provide strength in tension. This forms a laminated plate-like assembly. Honeycomb materials are widely used where flat or slightly curved surfaces are needed with high specific strength.
Honeycombs were first used in aircraft and rockets in the 1950s
They are extensively employed in the aerospace industry for this reason, and honeycomb materials in aluminum, fiberglass and advanced composite materials have been featured in aircraft and rockets since the 1950s. But they can also be found in many other fields, from packaging materials in the form of paper-based honeycomb cardboard, to sporting goods such as skis and snowboards – or in façades of buildings.
One of the largest commercial developments in Cyprus
Kings Avenue Mall is an impressive example. Located in the center of Paphos, it is Cyprus’s most modern shopping mall. It is also home to many leading international brands and retailers and numbers among its leisure facilities a multiplex cinema, children’s play areas, restaurant chains and cafes. Boasting a modern architectural design, the state-of-the art mall is one of the largest commercial developments on the island. Comprising a total of 103,000 m², it has a covered area of 41,000 m² with 120 stores and is celebrating two years since opening.
Lightweight aluminum honeycomb system for the exterior façade
The impressive exterior façade has the most striking lightweight aluminum honeycomb system, developed and manufactured by Metallock in Greece. Metallock systems, combining aluminum honeycomb core material with various outer substrates, provide diverse design possibilities for designers and architects.
We visited Greece to interview Metallock’s owner and CEO Ilias Koutsourakis to ask him about the construction of this masterpiece:
What market applications and countries does Metallock concentrate on?
The focus is on the European market and the Middle East. We are also developing strong activities in Congo and other Central African countries with our honeycomb panel systems.
What skin materials are used with the aluminum honeycomb core and what value does Metallock bring to its customers with those solutions?
We use stainless steel, aluminum, high pressure laminate, ceramics, plastics, copper and Corian® outer skins. Our key differentiator from our market competitors is certainly that we deliver a complete system to our clients - customized and ready for installation - not just offering a panel.
How do you see the market for aluminum honeycomb core solutions developing?
These panels are the next generation of elements which go beyond the traditional ACP (aluminum composite panel). Honeycomb panels can be installed in large dimensions, have excellent rigidity and flatness and reduce the weight of the structure.
In terms of bonding and sealing in the production of your panels, what are your main requirements?
In addition to the technical characteristics, which include adhesion performance and fire protection, we need fast process times and logistical availability, packaging and delivery quantities, and safety in use– and not forgetting compatibility with the existing application techniques and equipment.
Which products do you use and for what applications?
We use various products from Sika, such as SikaForce® for bonding aluminum honeycomb cores to skin materials, and Sikaflex® and SikaBond® adhesives and sealants for installation work. We also tested Sika materials as finishing on the top sheet layers with very impressive results.
What values do you look for in your adhesive supplier?
At the end of the day, you need a partner on whom you can depend for solutions, whether that means the fast delivery of materials or technical assistance, for instance conducting a fire protection test. When dealing with customized solutions, you need to be flexible in every stage of your production process and along the entre value chain. It is an added advantage if the adhesive manufacturer has a local application technology facility capable of performing tests to international standards.
How would you sum up your relationship with Sika in less than 10 words?
A reliable partner with solutions for each project.
Now we suggest that you visit the Kings Avenue Mall yourself, do some shopping, grab a coffee and walk around the building and enjoy the impact it will have on you. And then you will agree that, yes, bees are intelligent and, yes, how well we have done by learning from them.