Soft to firm hardwood remained one of the primary materials used in framing while canvas was replaced with plywood, often marine ply. Despite its versatility, wood has limited insulation properties and is susceptible to rot when exposed at length to damp conditions.
In the late 1970s, a shift was seen with the introduction of aluminium frames and ribbed aluminium cladding. Notable advantages were increased strength and durability. Nevertheless, aluminium frames were not without their issues. Problems arising from metal fatigue, especially in offroad vans subjected to years of travel on rough roads, resulted in cracks forming around rivet points and welds. While generally capable of serving its purpose, aluminium cladding can also dent with relatively little force and is particularly susceptible to damage from hail. Additionally, its insulating properties are minimal, leading to caravans being prone to extreme variations in heat and cold.
Composite materials, particularly sandwich panels are the next generation of materials for the construction of caravans. Their lightweight and functional properties lowers environmental impact by reduce towing costs through improved fuel efficiency. A lighter caravan allows for increased payload capacity, accommodating more amenities for comfort. Furthermore, easier manoeuvrability enhances overall handling and safety during travel and reduced wear on tyres and brakes prolongs their lifespan.
Lastly, lightweight caravans are more accessible to a wider range of vehicles, enabling owners to enjoy caravan adventures with smaller, more economical tow vehicles. In summary, lightweighting promotes cost-effectiveness, maneuverability, increased amenities, improved vehicle longevity and broader accessibility for a more enjoyable and sustainable caravanning experience.