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Elevating adhesive technology

Published: 26 September 2013 - Rachael Morling

In common with many new installations around the world, the structure of the lift cars in the tallest building in Western Europe – The Shard – are bonded with Henkel adhesives. Here the company looks into the benefits adhesives provide for such applications

Towering over the Gherkin by 130m, The Shard is almost twice the height of any other viewing platforms in London, and is the tallest building in Western Europe. Double-deck lifts are used here: Two cars, one on top of the other, allow passengers on two consecutive floors to use the lift simultaneously – a design that substantially increases passenger capacity in the lift shafts. The lifts travel at 6m/sec.

Henkel adhesives have been selected to bond the door assemblies of the cars, offering a number of design and performance advantages.

A variety of advantages

High performance adhesives are increasingly being used to replace traditional joining technologies such as riveting, welding, clamping and bolting. Adhesives offer superior stress distribution over large surface areas and those exposed to high loading. They also act as sealants, preventing loss of pressure or liquids, blocking the penetration of condensation and protecting against corrosion.  In addition, adhesives form an insulating film to prevent contact corrosion when different types of metals are joined, and are excellent electrical and thermal insulators.

Through the use of adhesives alone, up to 20% can be saved on the weight of a standard lift, mainly because thinner and lighter materials can be used without compromising performance. The lower the weight of the car the more cost efficient it is to run; and the technology allows faster acceleration and travelling speeds. In fact the current record-holders are the Taiwanese who have lifts that propel their passengers at a speed of 60.6km/hour, corresponding to 16.8m/sec!

Adhesives also stiffen and stabilize the assembly when used in combination with the appropriate joint design. The introduction of an omega profile, for example, that is bonded to the outside face of the panel, considerably enhances the strength of the structure.

Aesthetics are another area important for such applications, and the lifts in The Shard must complement the overall design. As adhesives do not change the surface of materials, cosmetic rework isn’t necessary. If panels are bolted or welded, the joints are traditionally covered by cladding, which means another production process and additional weight.

Adhesives also pave the way for an increase in payload potential, an important factor in maximising the number of passengers and also for carriage of goods in service lifts.

Another beneficiary of adhesive technology is motor design. The clips and clamps that were once used on components such as rotors and stators are increasingly being replaced by adhesive-bonded magnets. Improved motor performance and service life have resulted thanks to a reduction in vibration. Motors also have greater resilience to thermal stress and shock.

Bonding technologies

Whilst metals remain predominant in lift construction, glass, plastics as well as painted and powder coated surfaces are becoming more commonplace, and the ability of adhesive technology to bond dissimilar materials such as these allows unconventional material combinations to be considered.

New formulations have also been developed for LED installations which, when used in lift construction, further enhance the energy efficiency credentials of the design.

In Europe alone, around 100,000 lifts are installed in new buildings and refurbished premises every year. Structural bonding is playing an increasingly important role in the design of these projects.


T: 01442 278000

Industry Connections: Henkel Ltd

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