TPO Thermoforming

The IKEA Foundation is developing and testing a better home for refugee families, in partnership with the un refugee agency (UNHCR) and Better Shelter. Cannon provides the Swedish thermoformers SAFEMAN the innovative equipment required to produce the plastic modular shelter. Many of the textile or plastic shelters currently used in refugee camps often have a life span of as little as six months before the impact of sun, rain and wind calls for their replacement.
The IKEA Foundation provides to this project funding and management support, UNHCR brings the know-how and field experience, while Better Shelter  - a social venture - develop the prototypes and specifications for houses that are put up in modules and can be delivered in flat packs, a well-known IKEA concept that simplifies transport.
The houses are designed to be easily set up and taken apart and are also easy to carry. A tubular steel structure, supports modular panelling elements for the roof and the walls: these panels, made by thermoforming rectangular sheets of expanded TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin), are characterised by an excellent resistance to UVs and rain.
These lightweight panels  guarantee a certain degree of thermal insulation, a complete tightness to light, wind and rain, while preserving “optically” the privacy of the family living in the shelter. Each house is fitted with a flexible type of solar power unit, which is sufficient to power one lamp and a USB port. The prototypes of the shelter have been tested in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Iraq and the families who live in the shelter have had a direct say in how the product is developed, contributing with their experience to this collaborative process.
When the decision was made to use thermoformed plastic walls and roof, NORTEC-Cannon AS, the Cannon agency in Europe’s Northern countries, was consulted by the Swedish company Safeman for the supply of a proper industrial solution able to provide the high number of parts in a rational and fast way. SAFEMAN manufactures everything from custom parts to high-volume units and assembled products for the industrial sector, offering to their customers a total concept, from initial idea to finished product.
Cannon Ergos was involved with this request and responded designing a complete production solution, while offering their laboratory facilities to supply the desired prototypes for the field tests. The suggested thermoforming solution aimed to produce a totally trim-less panel: no peripheral scrap is generated in this project, contributing to the economy and the environment friendliness of the process. When fully operative, this plant will be able to produce panels for about 30,000 shelters/year.