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Bollhoff Fastening has revealed how its Rivtac high-speed fastening technology has been adopted to meet the strength and contamination-free assembly requirements of a lightweight solar panel.

Construction of the solar collector frame requires the secure fixing of an outer frame from one side only, without pre-punching or drilling to avoid compromising the structural integrity of the main frame.

Additionally, the fastening technique has to work in combination with a silicone adhesive sealant and avoid any risk of contamination.

Working in partnership with energy-efficient water-heating systems manufacturer Clage, Bollhoff proposed its standard Rivtac joining system to meet these specific production requirements.

The flat plate solar energy collector delivers high energy yields – in excess of 80 per cent – and weighs only 32.5kg due to its lightweight geometry and materials.

An aluminium frame is added as a final step in the manufacturing process to optimise strength and protect the solar cells and service connections.

This is securely fastened at each corner with two Rivtac fasteners.

Other fixing methods such as bolts and piercing rivets were evaluated but these were found to produce unwanted filings, which could contaminate the silicone adhesive and have an adverse effect on frame strength.

To minimise application cycle time, the Rivtac fasteners are applied using Bollhoff’s portable high-speed pneumatic hand tool.

The fastener is presented to the components to be joined at high speed and penetrates both materials, causing a short-term rise in temperature in the joining zone, improving flow.

The materials being joined are displaced into the straight knurling on the tack shaft and achieve a close-tolerance fit.

Rivtac technology is said to be particularly suitable for joints of aluminium, steel, plastics, non-ferrous metals as well as for mixed materials and multiple-layer joints.

Bollhoff Fastenings

Böllhoff Fastenings Ltd is an international fastening and assembly technology specialist offering innovative, high performance products, tailored application solutions and technical support. It designs, develops and manufactures fastener systems in different metals and engineering thermoplastics that work in combination with a broad range of fastening technologies including blind riveting, self-piercing, tacking, clinching, threaded and quick locking. A comprehensive suite of complementary application tools, ranging from hand tools through to automatic and full-scale robotic systems, completes the package.

Based in Willenhall, Birmingham, Böllhoff has over 25 years' experience supporting customers in most major industrial sectors. The UK operation is an integral part of the Böllhoff Group, which comprises a network of companies employing more than 2,000 people in 21 countries across the world. A fourth-generation family business, Böllhoff is an independent organisation with headquarters in Bielefeld, Germany.

Manufacturing capabilities are run on a zero-defects philosophy and the company’s quality management system is certified to ISO/TS16949:2002. Continuous improvement is a permanent process. In addition its DIN EN ISO 14001 certification demonstrates that resources are used carefully and an environmentally conscious approach is central to the company’s culture.

Through close working relationships with its customers Böllhoff works with multi-national industries to create common standards for fastening methodology.   

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