The recreational vehicle (RV) enthusiast community is global. And big. According to the RV Industry Association1, more than 11 million households own an RV or caravan, and nearly a quarter of those are young people between the ages of 18 and 34. The future looks bright for the RV industry! Whether it’s weekenders or dedicated road warriors, the freedom provided by accommodations on wheels is appreciated by RVers around the world. But access to wide open spaces, flexible travel, and adventure isn’t all they want. Affordability, durability for long lifetimes, and appealing exterior and interior structures are consistent wish list items among committed consumers of various RV types – whether a travel trailer, fifth wheel, or motorhome.
To meet new and repeat customer expectations, manufacturers are increasingly turning to construction methodologies that can appeal to consumers while providing production advantages. OEMs are shifting from conventional mechanical fastening options to adhesives. The benefits are many:
- Stress relief – Using mechanical approaches like rivets create stress concentrations at the joining location, leading to reduced strength or total failure. The opposite is true with adhesives, which distribute stress evenly across the bonded area of the assembly.
- Inventory simplicity – Mechanical components of multiple sizes must be inventoried. Adhesive formulations can be used for several vehicle applications, simplifying sourcing, storage, and inventory control.
- Manufacturing ease and automation capability – Parts of online final assembly can also be automated, further streamlining overall production.
- Design and material flexibility – Adhesives can join dissimilar substrate materials, and the variety of formulations delivers extreme design flexibility and choice.
- Warranty protection – The more openings in the sidewalls, roofs, and exteriors, the more opportunity there is for water and moisture ingress. As water penetration is one of the most prevalent warranty claims, reducing its likelihood is advisable. While estimates vary, repair and transportation costs to honor warranty claims can amount to several thousand dollars, which the manufacturer must absorb.
- Vehicle weight – Transitioning to aluminum frames and laminated composite structures from conventional ‘stick and tin’ (wood and corrugated aluminum walls) for travel trailers and fifth wheels has helped lighten the vehicle’s total weight. This can serve two purposes: greater fuel efficiency and/or the ability to construct larger vehicles that comply with towing capacity regulations. Adhesives have played a role in these lightweighting advances.
Manufacturers aim to provide products RV and caravan buyers want at a reasonable price. With a growing community of road-ready enthusiasts across all age and gender demographics, each with distinct design and use objectives, appealing to everyone can be challenging. But possible. Adhesive construction methodologies help provide manufacturing and design flexibility to satisfy OEM and consumer objectives.
Check out a case study about this caravan manufacturer’s adhesive journey
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