Stratlock Framing System
Industrial Design | Engineering | Prototyping & Batch Production
Fastmount have been in the panel mounting business for 17 years with their extensive range of interior panels and clips. They are trusted both on land and sea by the best architects, yacht builders and interior outfitters all over the world.
Fastmount identified that current framing solutions for interior decorative panels in both marine and architectural contexts were crude and problematic, leaving installers with limited options and forced to create ad-hoc, unprofessional solutions of their own. These framing systems would often have limited compatibility with Fastmount’s existing panel fasteners. Blender has worked with Fastmount over the years on some award-winning projects and so they came to us once again to discuss how we can create a flexible, cost effective framing system that can rapidly be assembled and is compatible with their already successful Stratlock products to standardise the range.
The Fastmount Stratlock® Rail System is an interior aluminium framing system. It allows designers and builders to build interior ceiling and wall framework onto uneven substrates in order to precisely attach interior panelling with Fastmount’s Stratlock range of hidden panel fasteners.
Aluminium extrusion was the best solution for the frame due to being lightweight, cost effective and fire resistant. The extrusion profile was designed to fit Fastmount’s existing female side mount (SL-FA) clips in the top or bottom t-slot grooves while a single female front mount (SL-FB ) clip can be mounted centrally. This provides installers with a wide variety of clip configurations depending on their situation. Female clips install into the extrusion with 8mm of adjustability built into them, allowing for the decorative panel/male clip to be precisely positioned before being locked into place. Uneven panels can be adjusted by simply disengaging the clip, realigning, and locking back into place.
Connecting the frame together is really where the magic happens. After exploring various concepts, the system evolved to become a modular set of connectors which you can build on depending on the junction required. The base connector slides into the T-slot and allows simple fixed 90 degree connections. From this base connector you can add two hinging options; one to attach a parallel extrusion, or a perpendicular extrusion. Each of the hinging options can be fixed at any angle to secure the frame tightly. This allows installers to build a frame simply with a handful of components and minimal tools.
While low weight was a requirement for the profile, we had to ensure the profile would be strong enough to support the decorative panels. Blender conducted several rounds of FEA analysis to test the extrusion strength and optimise it to mitigate failure points. This involved setting up a framework of tests which applied load to the extrusion along relevant axes. The goal was to analyse properties such as torsional stiffness, high stress areas, and deflection. Utilising the same test framework while modifying the extrusion profile allowed Blender to compare and contrast iterations and validate design modifications.
The Stratlock Rail System enables a seamless and hassle-free solution to lining a structural interior with perfectly spaced decorative panels in a variety of scenarios. Reliable and repeatable, the system can be CAD designed and pre-built precisely to install, speeding up the construction process, enabling simple remote design and reducing margin of error. Once installed, any maintenance or removal of panels (for access to services or to recover the panel in a refit scenario) requires no replacement of fasteners to fix panels back into place, reducing construction waste.
Blender was able to help Fastmount in their vision of standardising the installation process of this kind of framing and designed a system which complimented their already successful range of panel clips. Fastmount also utilised Blender’s capabilities to create 3D rendered visualisation to demonstrate how this large and configurable system works in a simple, yet effective way. The animation that was created has proven useful to show how the system is installed and works in a way that is difficult to communicate through photography.
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