SIPTEC directors began manufacturing Structural Insulated Panels and promoting sip building in the UK in 1982 the company has experience in all the methods of Structural Insulation Panel manufacture. The providence of the Siptec Structural Insulated Panel product comes from extensive testing and evaluation and complies with E.O.T.A, CE Type approval
Siptec have vast experience in the application of Sips, we are proud of our heritage and you will find we are one of the few companies who really understand how Structural Insulated Panels work, we have the knowledge and skills required to select and apply Sips correctly into all types of construction.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE SIPTEC SYSTEM
SIPTEC THE PAST
Tony Palmer, the Managing Director of SIPTEC, has over 40 years of work experience in the UK building industry. In the early years he worked for multi national builders on urban new town developments such as Stevenage New Town and Milton Keynes, whilst working on these sites he witnessed the first rot out failures of timber frame construction. With the onset of the energy crisis and price increases in the 70’s Palmer recognised the urgent need to apply additional insulation to standard building cavity wall construction.
Palmer pioneered and developed blown wool insulation to retro fit cavity wall insulation to building structures. He was responsible for developing the blowing machines and processing plant for the manufacture and packaging of both mineral and glass wool fibres, he also carried out consultation and evaluation work on blown cellulose fibre for Maybank waste paper and the American company National Starch & Adhesives.
During this period he took several products through Agrément certification (the forerunner to BBA) he predicted catastrophic failure of the UF Foam cavity wall insulation systems that were prevalent at the time, he was proven right and these products were subsequently removed from the market, to this date he believes there was nothing basically wrong with the UF Foam product, his opinion is that the problems occurred through lack of control and inadequate supervision over installation and he is convinced the same problems will occur with SIP building systems unless a responsible authority polices and controls the design and on site build process, such as the TRADA Q Mark, Timber frame Inspection scheme.
Tony Palmer’s son, Nigel, was training as a composite racing yacht builder with Green Marine, in Lymington, Hampshire, Palmer observed with interest the work his son was doing and the enormous strength with light weight that was achieved using foam cored composite build ups in racing yachts, F1 cars and stealth fighters etc, this is where his initial ideas began to develop for what has now become the SIPTEC SIP building system. In 1984 Palmer gained financial independence when the WallTherm company was sold to British Gypsum, BPB PLC. Walltherm cavity wall insulation is still marketed by Gyproc Glass Fibre.
After a brief sabbatical development began on what was to become the SIPTEC Building System. Work started in a barn in Brockenhurst, Hants under the name of Elite Composites, many types of foam core and facing materials were trialed, used and evaluated included PVC, polyurethane, phenolic, EPS and XPS, etc., both wet and dry laminations were experimented with and Palmer is firmly convinced that experiments he made utilising continuous wet lamination methods will emerge as “the ultimate” “SIP Production Technology”. During these early days it was very difficult to convince people to trial Elite Composites SIP products here in the UK but the company successfully exported Elite Composite panels into Europe (mainly France and Greece) for the erection of holiday chalets and a few residential properties. Tony Palmer funded and he and Nigel Palmer developed numerous manufacturing techniques and panel connection systems, they were later approached by a consortium comprising of an ex Tetropak Chartered Engineer and a Norwegian/American who wanted to purchase the company and license it’s technology to establish 60 franchised manufacturing plants (as per the Tetropak model). To facilitate this takeover Elite Composite embarked on a program of structural testing with the BRE and University of Surrey. This work resulted in the product now marketed as “THE MANTLE PANEL” Elite tested numerous products at BRE with impressive results and Tony Palmer recalls, on one occasion, half the staff of the BRE looking on in amazement at compressive tests taking place in their heavy structures laboratory, they could not believe the strength of these building panels comprising of extruded polystyrene cores with 9mm plywood faces. This takeover consortium introduced the Palmers to computers, the internet and, at that time, an emerging American market producing polystyrene (EPS) cored SIPs and OSB facings. It transpired that the Palmer’s Elite systems development had mirrored almost exactly what had been going on in the United Stated for a number of years and apart from the OSB, their manufacture and methodology was virtually identical.
Sales of Elite Composite SIPs rose steadily through the early 90’s and the company was able to fund further test and evaluation programs on SIP products. In the 90’s there was and still is only one respected academic in the UK, this was Dr. Robert Griffiths at Surrey University, so Elite Composites continued it’s testing programs at that University. During that time the company also worked very closely with Mr. Peter Steer, probably the UK’s leading timber frame structural engineer.
In the mid 90’s Tony Palmer licensed a SIP manufacturing plant into northern Greece, this plant was using extruded polystyrene core material, the take over consortium however, was pressing Elite Composites to change over to the cheaper expanded polystyrene material that was used in the United States, development went forward using OSB material from the newly established plants in the UK and Ireland and EPS manufactured in the UK. It almost immediately became apparent that potentially very serious density variation was occurring with the block EPS that was being bought in, whilst the specification claimed 15kgs per cubic meter, on occasions it was found to be as low as 6kgs. If such a low density core was used in a lamination with a structural point loading, Murphy’s law would predict structural failure. There then commenced a considerable period of development for moulded EPS cores produced within stringent parameters, Erlenbacher of Germany co-operated and co-developed machinery to produce such cores and trials were undertaken. During a very hot summer in Greece, Tony Palmer noticed that samples of XPS material left in his car had softened and bent in the high temperatures, this gave him cause for concern because in the USA they only call for 15 minute fire resistance in housing structures, whereas UK building regulations being more stringent required that such a EPS cored SIP would be required to stay structurally sound in a fire for a period of 30 minutes, at this time there was considerable prejudice within LPC, BRE and other establishments against the use of polystyrene materials. The directors of Elite Composites, therefore decided to embark on a program to develop polyurethane cored structural insulated panels as this material was know to be much more stable and did not soften and melt in high temperature. This development led to the product produced today.
Initially Palmer tried to subcontract Sip panel Manufacture to the existing manufacturers of cold store panels, this was not successful so production of the product now is carried out only in approved SIPTEC Licensed Plants.
SIPTEC Structural Insulated Panels, are now the product of choice by leading builders architects and engineers for multi-storey hotels with concrete floors, schools, housing, public buildings, holiday complexes, leisure buildings, swimming pools and sports pavilions.