October '20

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rv-pro.com October 2020 • RV PRO • 19 of that RV-floor sandwich – and for the same reasons. Look up a definition for "composite material" on the internet, and sources will say it's a combination of two mate- rials with different physical and chemical properties. When glued or bonded, they create a material to do a particular job, for instance, become stronger, lighter, or even resistant to electricity. They can also improve strength and stiffness. For Jackson Center, Ohio-based Air- stream, the move to a composite material for the 2021 model year of its Airstream line comes as the company moved into a new production facility early this year. However, Dana Gehman, an engineer who worked on finding the right composite for the RVs, says that more than anything, the move was about the continuous improve- ment of Airstream's products. "Obviously, the plywood floors on the many, many Airstreams out there have performed extremely well for many, many years," Gehman says. "Many Airstreams out there have the original plywood floors in them. But we're always seeking some- thing better – and composite floors give us the opportunity to remove the last piece of wood as a primary part of our structure. We saw that as something that would benefit the future of Airstream going forward." He compares it to residential home- building, where wood has also given way to a host of more efficient materials. Greg Glanders, president of Elkhart, Ind.-based Polser USA, also is anxious to spread the word that composites are a new option for RV flooring. Polser USA is a limited liability corporation spun off from Turkish-based Polser International earlier this year. So far, Polser's biggest splash came at the end of July, when it was announced the company had reached an exclusive partnership agreement with Winnebago Industries to provide a permanent anti-mi- crobial coating on the interior walls of its Class A motorhomes. However, Glanders' background is in composite materials, and he says several OEMs are testing the company's com- posite flooring as a first step in bringing that product to the market. "These are products for people who want to be the innovators, who want to be the leaders," Glanders says. "This is something they can talk about with their customers. This is something to upsell." Reducing the Squeaks So, just what are proponents of com- posite materials saying to sell their flooring? The main message is simple: It's not wood. For Airstream, taking that last bit of wood out of its units means if there's ever a leak somewhere, there aren't going to be any issues with the flooring, according Ohio-based Airstream says it is relying on a supplier from the Buckeye State that was providing composite products to a parallel marketplace to supply it with its new composite flooring.

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