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14 September 2004

Translucent Concertina Wall for Streetcars

ContiTech Elastomer-Beschichtungen GmbH, Northeim, is launching its transparent concertina-wall module for the rail industry. A design that has proved itself in buses has now been adapted for streetcars. A miniature model of the textile interface that will soon be in service as a flexible link in rail cars will be showcased at the railway engineering exhibition in Berlin (hall 1.2, booth 136).

The concertina wall has proven itself in actual use as textile interfacing for articulated buses. And demand for the new technology shows no sign of abating. Before the year is out, other urban transit authorities will join Göttingen and Pforzheim in integrating the translucent concertina wall into their bus fleets.

In day-to-day service the concertina wall is a real eye-catcher. It puts an end to the dreary bleakness in the articulation area between rail transit cars. “Its translucent property brightens up the otherwise dark middle section of a bus,” explains Alexander Papadimitriou, Production Manager at ContiTech Elastomer Coatings, “and the refraction effect even intensifies the brightness, so we can combine the economic and optical benefits with a higher safety level for passengers and drivers.” A stunningly modern look is a very important aspect for all transit companies in luring customers into using the transport system.

But not only engineers and users were sold on the merits of the innovation. Last year the jury of the International Forum Design conferred an iF design award 2003 on the concertina wall in the category transportation design. This year the MATERIALICA Design Award 2004 in the category material went to ContiVitroflex®, a synthetic rubber specially developed for use in this application.

ContiTech, in cooperation with Bayer, has developed a special high-tech elastomer for the translucent concertina wall. The demands made on the material are high: For on-the-road service and rails, the concertina wall has to withstand all environmental conditions it may encounter. UV radiation, water, salt, petrol, oil and the impact of stones may not cause damage. The wall is constantly flexing – not every material can cope with this. But the purpose-developed synthetic rubber Conti Vitroflex®, in combination with all conceivable textile reinforcing materials, is absolutely tear-proof, flexible and suitable for temperatures from -20°C to +120°C.

“We are constantly at work on the further development of the transparent concertina wall design and the ContiVitroflex® material, improving the combination specifically for additional application areas,” says Papadimitriou. “The material is getting lighter, more flexible and thinner, without compromising in any way its high-strength character.”

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