Sandwich Panel Fundamentals

1 May 2019 Kingspan MEATCA
MEATCA Blog April Article SW Panel EN

Learn the Basics

A modern solution for both residential and commercial construction projects, sandwich panels are composite elements that can be used to build floors, walls, and roofs. Also known as insulated panels, sandwich panels consist of an insulation layer, known as the core, ‘sandwiched’ between two structural layers. Although sandwich panels have been commercially popular since the 1970s for their superior thermal performance, energy efficiency, and durability as compared to traditional wood-framed buildings, the idea behind insulated panels actually dates as far back as the 1930s.

Thanks to advancements in construction materials, sandwich panels have come a long way from their early prototypes. Nowadays, these panels can be engineered to withstand a variety of internal and external conditions, which makes them a popular choice for both interior and exterior use – meaning walls as well as façades, ceilings as well as roof systems. Airtight sandwich panels are also an excellent choice for building cold store units, which require specific interior climate conditions to safely store anything from foods to medicine. The performance of sandwich panels varies depending on the materials used for its core and its exterior layers, often referred to as the sheathing. These days, the most popular materials for the core are expanded polystyrene (EPS), extruded polystyrene (XPS), polyisocyanurate (PIR), polyurethane (PUR), mineral wool (MW). Although each material comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, PIR and PUR cores are generally more resistant to water and fire than EPS or XPS cores, and are more durable than mineral wool or other materials. The boards on either side of the core also come in a variety of options, the most popular being sheet metal, aluminium, OSB, plywood, fibre cement, or magnesium oxide (MgO). Here, too, the choice of material is important, as OSB, plywood, and composite structural siding panels don’t offer the same level of fire performance, moisture and mould ingress resistance, and durability as do sandwich panels plated with sheet metal.
            Regardless of the materials used, one of the greatest advantages of sandwich panels is that they are much faster to install as compared to ‘built-up’ systems requiring multiple components. Instead of requiring walls and roofs to be assembled step-by-step – a process which is prone to delays as well as errors in construction – sandwich panels are factory pre-engineered to be single-component systems, requiring minimal time and energy to be built. This, in turn, translates to significant savings in labour, time and material costs for builders.
            Although sandwich panels may require more of an investment up-front, their lifetime performance compared to traditional systems simply cannot be beaten. Known for designing and developing advanced building envelope products and solutions, Kingspan Insulated Panels is currently leading the field in fire protection with its QuadCoreTM Technology, the world’s first closed-cell hybrid-insulation core to achieve the FM 4882 certification, FM Global’s insurance standard for smoke-sensitive occupancies. Designed with Kingspan’s extensive expertise, the distinctive grey microcells that make up QuadCoreTM also yield industry-leading thermal and environmental performance, backed by a 40-year thermal and structural guarantee – making these sandwich panels a wise investment in the long term.