Should prefabs be glued instead of screwed (or nailed) together?

glue bond
© Fraunhofer

According to European research institute Fraunhofer, nailing or stapling components of a prefabricated house together can be a problem.

First, the manufacturers make a frame structure out of squared timber in the plant, onto which they then fit boards made of timber derived materials. Nails and staples hold the structure securely together. However, several considerations must be factored in: the squared timber must not be too narrow, else the nails and staples can break out; also, wherever boards meet, there has to be a rib to which the manufacturer can attach the boards.

They propose adhesives to solve this problem, but that raises a new issue:

If it were possible to stick these boards and the other timber parts together using adhesive, it would give the building planners a lot more flexibility in component design. Although there are some companies currently using liquid adhesives in construction, this manufacturing technique has not yet become widespread. This is because the process has some drawbacks: for the liquid adhesive to set, you either have to heat the entire board including squared timber or else wait several hours – a time-consuming business that does not fit easily into industrial production processes.

So they have developed a new kind of adhesive tape made of a metal strip coated with a hot-melt adhesive. Zap the metal and it heats up, the glue melts and in a minute you have a bond. “The adhesive sets at the push of a button, so to speak."

I have been trying to figure out why one would want to make tape out of brass or stainless steel that gets used for a few seconds and then abandoned for the life of the building. Or what ever happened to the idea of design for deconstruction, where we avoid glues and materials that make it hard to take our buildings apart a the end of their useful life, a problem with the wide range of construction adhesives that builders now commonly use. Perhaps the idea is that if you hook it up to the power again it remelts the glue and the whole thing falls apart into a pile of lumber.

Otherwise, it does seem like a solution in search of a problem.

More at Fraunhofer and Gizmag

Should prefabs be glued instead of screwed (or nailed) together?
Sometimes it seems we are developing solutions in search of a problem. This might be one of them.

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