Vacuum Forming Great Fit in the Clean Energy Industry
In response to increasing demand for commercial rooftop solar applications, we used the vacuum forming process to help develop this solar panel. We were approached by Johns Manville (JM) in 2010 to collaborate in developing a thermoformed roof solar panel mounting system.
JM asked us to help provide mounting solutions to two common problems facing the solar installation business:
- First of all, many rack mount systems rely on roof penetrations to secure them to the roof, but those penetrations may void the JM warranty on their roofing systems.
- Additionally, other mounting systems rely on ballast to hold the systems secure. In many retrofit situations, the roof is not engineered to handle the additional load. Moreover, traditional means of mounting entail labor-intensive installations.
JM, with ATI’s engineering assistance, developed a large mounting system, the ENRGY Curb™. With this system we were able to satisfy all the above functional requirements. First, it is very lightweight. Next, it attaches via heat weld and compatible adhesive tape strips. Finally, it reduces installation times significantly. We make the product from a reinforced polyolefin that is a challenge to mold due to its large size (5′ x 10′) and low hot-strength. (#1) It includes 4 or 8 “insert-molded” T-slots for flexibility in mounting the panels, without tools, for most of the common solar panels. And, due to the low profile and shape of the panel, wind-uplift is not a problem.