Cabinetry in composite/'glass boxes?

#1
Hi good people,

Last week I took a look at XP Camper in California and came away very impressed with their work.

I notice that they bond the cabinetry into their shell using epoxy/resin much like they were 'molded' into the form. They also use a synthetic board product rather than wood for the cabinetry. Both of these things I LOVE.

I am not sure if we are going to have a company build our box or if I am going to DIY the process yet but because I am a obsessive person at times I go to thinking. If we were to build out own cabinetry, could we adhere/bond the units to the floor/walls using just an adhesive like product?

I studied automotive adhesives for composites in university and have no doubts there are products that would be more than strong enough. It more comes down to what is available to the public. Getting access to the latest and greatest product might be difficult.
Anyone adhere their cabinetry together or to the shell?

Thanks,
Mike
 
#2
I’ve got a gutted fiberglass Chinook camper that I need to build out. Keeping it simple but adding some cabinets and partitions. The floor is wood, and there is wood blocking glassed into the wall of the shell in spots. I’ve thought of also using some kind of construction/marine/auto body adhesive in a caulk tube to secure the cabinetry.
 
#5
I will be doing exactly this in my build. I will use scigrip sg230 hv for the composite to composite adhesive. I really like MMA adhesives their surface adhesion, strength and elasticity are exceptional.
 
#6
We use a PU adhesive from Germany. WAY easier and less messy to work with then any other PU adhesives. Just soap and water clean up. Spec sheets are found here: http://totalcomposites.com/product/adhesive/
Do you think, reasonably, that a cabinet that is adhered to the upper areas of the shell, say in the upper corner bonded at the top and the side, would hold without mechanical attachment? Not for really heavy items of course, think dried pasta, or clothing, or breakfast cereal.

Or, as we are currently focusing on your products anyway, does mechanical fastening negatively effect the composite shell? Having stringers put in the panel leads to a little upfront limitation on placement of components.

Thanks,

Mike
 
#7
If you use the right kind of glue then yes, absolutely.

If it's strong enough to make car chassis (lotus have used glued chassis for 20 years) and planes then your pasta should be fine!
 
#8
With a caveat, Lotus has been bonding the chassis structure, they have also been mechanically fastening through the adhesive making the chassis heavier than it needs to be. However, the board decided that in the interest of public perception they would mechanically join the chassis as a 'belt and braces' solution. My professor in the subject brings this up each ... well he did 14 years ago or whenever I took that lecture.. year in the UK. He was one of the consultants on the project.

My concern is not with the method but rather the material. Saying Lotus, or any manufacturer of planes/F1 cars/etc bonds the chassis without issue and then using Elmer's glue to do the same at home won't exactly return the same results. If what we can get, Sikaflex/3m/Korbond are suitable then I have no worries!

Thanks!
 
#9
Agreed hence the comment about the right kind of glue!

Also worth noting that the right surface prep is important too, whilst many structural adhesives are badged as requiring little or no surface prep I'm personally inclined to do a clean/abrade/clean following advice about the tenacity of die lubricants from extrusion processes.
 

sg1

Adventurer
#10
I have been using a composite camper for 7 years in Afrika and Latin America. A lot of the driving is off road or on bad roads with literally thousands of miles of corrugated. Because it is frameless I could not use screws or rivets to attach furniture, tanks or anything else in the camper. Everything is attached with sika 221 and nothing got loose. You just have to make sure that you have enough surface at the contact between the composite panel and the item you want to attach.
 
#11
All of the cabinets (and everything else for that matter) in my build were composite PPE panels bonded using glass and resin. We had to take care to keep the layup layers to a minimum to ensure a smooth look for the surface veneers, but it's been bomber- lots of real-world testing at this point.
 
#12
I have been using a composite camper for 7 years in Afrika and Latin America. A lot of the driving is off road or on bad roads with literally thousands of miles of corrugated. Because it is frameless I could not use screws or rivets to attach furniture, tanks or anything else in the camper. Everything is attached with sika 221 and nothing got loose. You just have to make sure that you have enough surface at the contact between the composite panel and the item you want to attach.
100% agreed!
 
#13
Absolutely stellar feedback guys!

I know it is premature but we plan on several years of living in this thing full time and we are looking to make it bomb-proof for the real world.

Bonding here we come!
 
#14
I am planning on building my box using aluminum and rivets. I have also considered gluing the cabinets in place. I think I will opt to build structure into the walls to add fasteners in. From what I am told it can really be helpful to be able to remove furniture to get to plumbing and replace things that break.

Ideally if you do glue to the superstructure I would glue supports and attachment points then screw/slot the cabinets to the hardpoints. In composites used in aviation they drill a pilot hole and fill it with an epoxy to protect the foam structure then they glue in a threaded insert. It's probably fairly labor intensive to this but it does leave you with a strong insert.

Looking at construction from bliss mobil who uses composites they use dowel pins to join to the walls. I'm not certain if they have screws as well.

To support an upper cabinet a common technique is to take a long plan that runs the full horizontal length of the cabinet. Cut the top edge at a 45 chamfer tapering into the wall to make a lip. Make another board that looks identical but the lower edge is cut that board goes on the back of the cabinets. You can then epoxy/screw/pin the first plank in place. To install the cabinet you lift to height and hook it onto the first plank which supports the majority of the weight. Now you just need to secure the top edge to the wall.

One thing to consider when doing cabinets is that you want to be able to warm all of them up to dry them out to avoid mold/mildew.
 
#15
One of my reasons for bonding in place is that the bulkheads that form the sides of my cabinets will provide structural reinforcement to my box. This will be much more effective with full bonds rather than point attachments.

I am doing quite a detailed full systems cad model prior to building that enables me to design in access for maintenance to hopefully avoid the need for cabinet removal.

The point about heat is really good. I'm using underfloor heating throughout so can incorporate this.
 
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