Automotive engineering inspires building products

EJOT’s Applitec Centre

By Brian Mack, technical business development manager, EJOT UK Ltd

AS fastener manufacturers, our building products often benefit from having dedicated teams of automotive engineers (metaphorically) just along the corridor. For the unaware, the EJOT manufacturing group serves many markets, notably automotive and construction sectors. For the former, market demands for lightweight vehicle manufacturing is creating an explosion of advanced engineering materials – with thermoset plastics and foams at the forefront. Pause to consider the variety of plastic to metal combinations on any modern vehicle! EJOT leads the way with this joining technology, partnering leading automotive manufacturers and working with academic institutions around the globe.

Cars and Construction – where’s the connection?

This same knowledgebase can drive the development of new building products whilst maximising the performance of current ranges. For example, the EJOT Colorfast range has over years gained industry-wide recognition as possibly the most efficient and reliable roofing and cladding installation system – yet even this top performer is monitored for routine developmental ‘upgrades’.

Colorfast’s range of carbon and stainless steel fasteners undoubtedly provides self-drilling solutions for every roofing and cladding application. Yet the brand-name actually refers to the integral plastic head – not the fastener it encapsulates. Its unique design maximises performance by providing uniform compression of the washer – a near fail-proof system that seals at the head, thread and sheet.

The plastic head is moulded over the flanged, metal hexagon of the fastener to allow a bi-hex torque to be transmitted directly, creating a positive and secure driving process. Because the nylon fully encapsulates the metal head right up to the shank, it will remain securely in place and provide good dynamic installation into the heaviest section steel.

Even for standard installations using carbon steel fasteners, that means 100% corrosion resistance above the line of the roofing sheet.

Equally, Colorfast’s bonded washer is engineered to deform to mirror the underside of the integral plastic head which evenly compresses the full surface of the washer to maximise the seal. Without this mechanism, an ordinary metal headed fastener may not benefit from an even clamping load to compress the washer and if overdriven, inversion of the washer can occur – reducing pullover resistance and increasing the chance of ingression.

How do you improve the tried and trusted?

Local and international legislation surrounding chemical composition of coloured plastics is forever changing. As manufacturers, we have a responsibility to anticipate this and ‘staying in front’ means a regular recalibration and testing process of our entire coloured plastics range to ensure the structural integrity of the material – for every colour combination. In layman’s terms, that means testing the ultra-violet stability of 382 colour combinations to correspond with all recognised matching systems. A tall order? Maybe, but we have two ‘win-win’ factors on our side: products like Colorfast provide realtime benchmarking stretching back many years. As a company, EJOT UK chose to archive key performance data from selected installations, providing the capability to calibrate 1000 hour test conditions that replicate 40 years of environmental testing. Add this to the previously highlighted work with engineering plastics, and the knowledge pool at our disposal allows us to fine tune to the most exacting standards.

Committed to ISO 50001

The importance of continued product development is key to a manufacturer’s own longevity in the market place. The upgrade is far from free in reality, with the constant reinvestment into hardware within the EJOT Applitec Testing Centre. Developing more green-efficient products underpins the commitment to our ISO 50001 energy-reduction policy. By developing fastening systems to meet modern demands, yet engineer long term performance into a product is a science in itself and very different to providing short-term solutions that simply ‘get the job done’.