Vacuum insulation panels (VIP)
Vacuum insulation panels (VIP)

Vacuum insulation panels (VIP)

  • Wickert: Boom in special presses for vacuum insulation panels - highly effective insulation in the smallest of spaces
  • For transporting pharmaceuticals and vaccines, refrigerators and freezers, and insulating buildings

Landau, Germany, April 6, 2022 - The machine manufacturer Wickert is currently experiencing a boom in demand for special powder presses for the production of highly insulating vacuum insulation panels (VIP) made of compressed fumed silica.

This has been triggered by the increased demand for efficient and space-saving insulation materials for shipping boxes used to transport Covid-19 vaccines. These can be transported reliably cooled with the help of the compact insulation material. As a result, they are in particularly high demand for air freight.

In the medium term, increased climate protection and the rise in energy-efficient renovation of old buildings will also contribute to growing demand for equipment to produce the panels.

Mineral wool takes up five times as much space, Styropor ten times as much

The insulating material, which is manufactured in the form of panels and has a thermal conductivity of only around 0.004 watts per meter and kelvin, is extremely space-saving. For the same insulating effect, mineral wool requires five times as much space and Styropor in the form of expanded polystyrene (EPS) ten times as much. VIP is used in particular for transport containers and trucks in refrigeration logistics as well as in refrigerators and freezers, operational equipment and buildings.

Wickert is one of only a few manufacturers of the special powder presses worldwide

Wickert is one of the few manufacturers worldwide to offer and sell these special presses to customers in Europe and the USA. The family-owned company developed the first systems, which are always manufactured as customized special machines, back in 2010.

As a rule, they are set up as a coordinated press system including the appropriate peripherals. In most cases, Wickert supplies customers with complete, often fully automated production lines with peripherals and the appropriate special tooling. The company acts as a general contractor, integrating all the necessary components and supplying the turnkey system.

All Wickert powder presses are modular in design and are configured to meet customer-specific requirements. For the production of vacuum insulation panels, they are designed for a specific panel format, usually for standard sizes from 1,200 x 1,000 mm to 2,000 x 2,000 mm.

Homogeneous high density and insulating effect over the entire panel

The vacuum insulation panels consist of a metallized plastic shell containing mainly a silica powder obtained from sand with a microporous structure, for example fumed silicon oxide. Various additives reduce the thermal conductivity in a first step. Gas molecules are then extracted from the starting material under pressure and simultaneous evacuation. This transforms the loose powder into a pressed, dimensionally stable core.

It is important that the highly dispersed silica is distributed gently and homogeneously in the press. Accumulating dust and dirt particles are extracted as they arise. Precise positioning and uniform pressure build-up at the press plunger ensure that the material is pressed precisely with a homogeneous density across the entire panel. As a result, Wickert presses produce vacuum insulation panels whose high quality and insulating effect is ensured over the entire surface. In total, an automated production cycle with a Wickert special powder press takes around 2 to 6 minutes, depending on the panel thickness.

After pressing, a cover of high-density metallized plastic composite film ensures that the vacuum is maintained inside and that no gases or water vapors can penetrate.