What can home improvements teach us about the importance of thermal insulation in product design? During a recent remodeling project, an electrician removed an old light fixture from above a bathtub. The general contractor then removed the rest of the ceiling and made an unwelcome discovery. As the contractor explained to the homeowner, the 2 x 4s that surrounded the old light fixture had large black spots that weren’t pine knots. The bathroom hadn’t gone up in flames, but the burn marks were alarming.
Naturally, the home owner was upset and began asking questions. How did this happen? Why didn’t the installer of the light fixture understand the fire hazard? As the contractor explained, there was plenty of blame to go around. For starters, the fit between the fixture’s metal box and the ceiling’s wooden supports was too tight. That meant the installer didn’t have room for thermal insulation between the metal frame and the wooden 2 x 4s. Metal conducts heat, wood burns, and the burn marks were the result.
Installer Oversight and Operator Error
Yet that’s not where the story ends. Engineers know that operator error can upset even the best product designs. In this case, the home owner had used higher-watt incandescent light bulbs than the fixture designer had specified. Some of the energy from incandescent lamps is converted into heat, and the filaments of these light bulbs can reach thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. The surface temperature of a light bulb is cooler, of course, but can still reach hundreds of degrees – hot enough for some wood to begin to burn.
Fortunately, this home improvement story has a happy ending. The owner avoided a house fire, is getting a new bathroom, and will only use the right type of light bulbs for the new light fixture. The electrician will install lighting that leaves enough room for thermal insulation, and the building inspector will ensure that the work is done properly. All stories don’t have happy endings, however, so ensuring the success of your own engineering project requires proper planning and execution, too.
Think Outside the (Metal) Box
JBC Technologies is a custom die cutter that understands the importance of thermal insulation and can recommend the right materials while supporting your larger product designs. Die cutting is a precise, cost-effective, and efficient technique for getting the thermal insulation that you need. As the story above shows, however, designers need to think outside of the (metal) box with products such as light fixtures. That’s why when you work with JBC, we’ll help you evaluate your entire application environment.
Depending on installers or operators to do the right things with your products designs can be a risky proposition. For die cut thermal insulation that supports, safe, reliable, and high-quality products, choose an experienced die cutter that adds value to your operations. For more information, contact JBC Technologies.