About Carapace Slate

A disruptive startup based just outside Cardiff, Carapace has developed the worlds first snap-fit composite roof tile which reduces installation time by 90%; stimulating house building and supporting our overwhelmed workforce, which is in rapid decline.  

Embodying 80% waste materials discarded from Wales’ industrial past and produced using negligible energy in our revolutionary dark micro-Factory, Carapace will be the first roof system to achieve net zero from launch, and remain so irrespective of growth.

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Features of the carapace slate

Features of the carapace slate

1. 80% waste by weight
2. Clip apertures
3. Weather bars, channels
4. Interlocking channels
5. Super thin – 5.5mm profile

6. Truss framework
7. Interlocking ribs
8. Weather barbs
9. Retention clips

Why the world needs carapace slate

The challenges facing roofing, and the broader construction sector today are foreboding and demand immediate resolve. Through cross-industry collaboration; where partners operate with shared ambition, vision, innovation, risk, and reward Carapace is working to drive positive change, while there’s still chance to bring things back from the brink.
GDP in UK construction continues grow but costs are soaring and the alarming skills and labour shortages are in continuous decline, all of which have a profound impact on the deficit of 4.3 million homes needed to house our growing population.

But what’s most alarming is the lack of affirmative climate action. Building materials account for around 8% of the UK’s operational carbon emissions, and we don’t even count any embodied carbon or the impact of imported goods. The challenges of decarbonising construction are formidable; and so complex that parliament has declined to provide any guidance or framework. And yet, led by market demand, sustainable materials are projected to be the biggest driver of growth over the next decade and far beyond.

There’s serious profit to be made for those who invest and innovate for the rapidly emerging market; and with forward thinking, sustainability doesn’t have to be an afterthought.

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homes needed to sustain our growing population
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time to waste
 
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tonnes CO2e resulting from UK construction materials, each year

What’s so special about Carapace Slate?

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    Rapid Installation

    Carapace self aligns and fully interlocks without nails or clips to reduce installation time by 90%. This step change in productivity allows more projects to be completed by our alarmingly overwhelmed workforce, stimulating home building and supporting the response to the housing crisis.

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    net zero

    Through lean supply chain management and negligible infrastructure Carapace has been meticulously created to become the first net zero roof system from launch. We’ve designed it to remain this way irrespective of growth, saving over five tonnes of carbon emissions per installation.

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    Low Cost-high value

    Comparable to most low-end slate, classic clay, and composite roof tiles, and less than 30% of the cost of Welsh Slate. Staggering labour cost savings are to be made through a 90% reduction in installation time. Carapace is an effortlessly eco-product, without the eco-premium.

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    Looks awesome

    Whether it be niche Bavarian clay, Welsh Slate, classic plain tiles or something discontinued and obscure, we can create a replicant with a fraction of the embodied carbon; low enough to be responsibly offset .

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    Recycled, circular

    For 100’s of years around 95% of quarried slate ends up as mountains of surfeit spoil. It’s this by-product that makes up 80% of Carapace by weight. There’s also things we can do with waste brick, fly ash and sequestered carbon, and we continue to innovate.

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    Sustainable Manufacture

    Carapace has created the TARDIS production solution, a unique and disruptive automated micro-factory. Taking just 2.5 minutes for a full production cycle, TARDIS requires negligible energy, space or infrastructure with the capacity for limitless modular, distributed growth.

What’s so special about Carapace Slate?

RAPID INSTALLATION

Carapace self aligns and fully interlocks without nails or clips to reduce installation time by 90%. This step change in productivity allows more projects to be completed by our alarmingly overwhelmed workforce, stimulating home building and supporting the response to the housing crisis.

NET ZERO

Through lean supply chain management and negligible infrastructure Carapace has been meticulously created to become the first net zero roof system from launch. We’ve designed it to remain this way irrespective of growth, saving over five tonnes of carbon emissions per installation.

LOW COST, HIGH VALUE

Comparable to most low-end slate, classic clay, and composite roof tiles, and less than 30% of the cost of Welsh Slate. Staggering labour cost savings are to be made through a 90% reduction in installation time. Carapace is an effortlessly eco-product, without the eco-premium.

LOOKS AWESOME

Whether it be niche Bavarian clay, Welsh Slate, classic plain tiles or something discontinued and obscure, we can create a replicant with a fraction of the embodied carbon; low enough to be responsibly offset.

RECYCLED, CIRCULAR

For 100’s of years around 95% of quarried slate ends up as mountains of surfeit spoil. It’s this by-product that makes up 80% of Carapace by weight. There’s also things we can do with waste brick, fly ash and sequestered carbon and we continue to innovate.

SUSTAINABLE MANUFACTURE

Carapace has created the TARDIS production solution, a unique and disruptive automated micro-factory. Taking just 2.5 minutes for a full production cycle, the Carapace TARDIS requires negligible energy, space or infrastructure with the capacity for limitless modular, distributed growth.

Team Carapace

Team Carapace

MARTYN LUCAS

HEAD OF EVERYTHING/ SUPREME LEADER

READ MORE →

AMY NINA SHELDRAKE

CARAPACE OVERLORD / SUPREME LEADER’S BOSS

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ALEX GRIFFITHS

HEAD OF EVERYTHING ELSE

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DR. SAMEER KHARE

SORCERER OF COMPOSITES

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OWEN SANTO

HEAD OF PIE CHARTS

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RAMZI

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT OFFICER

READ MORE →

Follow our journey

FAQs

WHAT IS CARAPACE?
Carapace is a revolutionary innovation in pitched roofing. Capable of replicating any traditional roofing material or variety, even the venerable Welsh Slate, Carapace has been developed to be the first net zero roof system in pitched roofing – and without the ‘eco premium’ price tag.

What’s more, Carapace has a patented, nail-free, rapid-fit interlocking system, which reduces installation time by 90%; increasing the profit margins and productivity of our existing workforce, reducing lead times and costs all round.

And we have big plans for rapid growth! Generally, high volume industries require huge investment and infrastructure for profitability through economies of scale, so the barriers for market entry are insurmountable.

Carapace’s decentralized growth model is the antithesis of economies of scale. Our fully automated production cell has been built in a shipping container…and it’s not just a whim. Our repeatable, plug and play ‘dark’ (almost off grid) production cell can be rapidly deployed anywhere capable of housing its footprint. With high NET margins & fixed cost model irrespective of volume, our distributed manufacturing solution facilitates rapid growth. With a network of SMEs, modular house builders, housing associations & industry giants alike, parts can be produced (at near cost) for their respective supply chains all monitored and optimised through a centralised network of Digital Twin technologies.

The challenges facing roofing today are profound and demand urgent resolve. Through cross-industry collaboration where partners operate with shared ambition, vision, innovation, risk, and reward, there’s a real chance change can happen in time, and inspire others to do the same.

Below you can find an animated crash-course in Carapace, but please do keep on reading..we have lots to share!

 

IS SNAP-FIT ROOFING REALLY A THING?
Up until now, no it hasn’t been a thing but it is a huge leap in roofing innovation that we’re hoping will play a big part in the industry’s future.

Brass taxes – roofing has major issues. There’s the never-ending skills crisis, soaring labour costs and growing lead times. Not to mention the challenges in inspiring future younger generations to join the industry.

Since recruiting and training the next generation roofers is an ongoing and alarming concern, we’ve tackled the challenge from a different angle by hugely increasing productivity for the workforce that we do have.

By removing the need for grading and holing slates (two days work) and the need to double-nail and clip each and every roof tile or slate (yep – minimum fixing requirements are going up again next year), Carapace self aligns and snaps into place; Reducing installation time by 90% – taking under 2 minutes to fit a square meter once everything’s up on the roof.

This means roofing firms can complete more jobs, contribute to solving our critical housing shortage, increase its profit margins due to lower labour costs and, if they’re kind enough, maybe pass some of those savings onto the homeowner.

You can find more info behind our reasoning in this infographic >>>

 

HOW'S IT INSTALLED?
Elementary, dear Watson and not much different to how things have been done for 100’s of years.

Once the structure and membranes are installed, we have a recycled uPVC rail that snaps around standard 38mm or 50mm graded batten before being fixed to the rafters as usual. We have a custom tool to maintain the gauge and keep everything square, so you might find laying out may actually be a little quicker. 

Starting right to left, a flange on the rear edge of the tile is placed into a hooked portion of the batten rail clip at approximately 60 degrees and pivoted into place. Two stainless spring-steel retention clips embedded within the front edge of the tile automatically align and pass through slots in a lower row of tiles – expanding to prevent removal.

For those looking for an authentic natural slate finish, we’ve developed a universal caddy tile for the finer details such as lead valleys and overhanging verges. But if this isn’t your bag, standard tile-and-a-halves can be used with most 3rd party products, like GRP secret gutters, hips and the like.

Perhaps some visuals would help – check out our interactive (demo) 3D installation app to learn more on the fixing technique

 

HOW ABOUT SOLAR?
We’ve done some work on this and haven’t come up with any reason why we couldn’t make solar panels even more desirable!

This is still in its concept phase but as we don’t use any pressure in our processes, embedding solar panels actually within the tile body is totally possible. And the batten rail used to secure the rear edge of the tile? We’ll that’s a perfect place to lay the tracks to carry all that lovely, clean energy to where it needs to be, so..

  • Panels can be clipped into place by your roofer, even if you aren’t planning on wiring them in straight away
  • No daisy-chaining or loads of tangly wires
  • No framework required! Panels will sit flush with the tiles to keep those pesky planning folks happy
  • We can colour match too just to blend everything in a little better

Watch this space

WHAT WILL IT COST, AND HOW MUCH WILL I SAVE?
Our current models are based around the £47/sq.m mark (NET) – this will put us at the same (if not lower) price point of most low-end slate, clay tiles, and composite roof tiles, and less than 1/3 of the cost of Welsh Slate. We’re hell bent on offering an eco-product without the eco-premium.

But other things come into play here..

If the natural slate effect is what you’re looking for, you can expect to save 10-15% in delivery breakages, two days labour-saving from grading (making sure you don’t end up with a door-step effect) and the time (and labour costs) it takes to align and nail/clip each slate twice. It might not sound like much but times this by 1000 slates and it all adds up.

We can also replicate Clay tile varieties and the labour savings are just as tantalising. A plain tile requires 60 tiles per square meter so you can expect to save the time it would take to fix over 5000 nails (or 2500 nails and 2500 clips) to the batten for a semi-detached house. The productivity increase for larger projects would be staggering (just look at the roof on a Tesco!).

What’s more, the standards for wind load calculations are expected to become more stringent next year under EuroCode BS EN 1991-1-4: 2005 + A1: 2021.

What does this mean?

As the weather is forecast to become progressively worse over the coming decades, we need to find a way to make sure our roof tiles stay put and prevent damage to property…a 4kg concrete projectile is not to be trifled with.

This is why the minimum required fixings are due to increase. As a result, some products will become obsolete and others will need peripheral fastenings. Either way the cost of the additional clips and the time it takes to fix them will have a huge impact on already soaring costs and long lead times.

Carapace already has retention clips embodied within the tile and has been tested to withstand 160mph (cat 4 hurricane) winds, which is more than we could expect mother nature to throw us here in the UK. How much cash will you save? Too many variables to consider but we’re betting it’s a truck load.

WHY IS THE DECARBONISATION OF BUILDING MATERIALS SO URGENT & CRITICAL?
It’s an enormous problem and an infinitely complex challenge to undertake. Hopefully our cheat-sheet info-flyer below will help give some insight on the issues facing the industry and a summary of our plan to play our part >>>

 

LOTS OF TALK ON NET ZERO, HOW COMPLICATED IS IT?
Decarbonisation is tricky business. No two companies or industries are the same but the challenges facing construction are more acute than most.

In roofing for instance, the most dominant materials across the UK and the EU are concrete, clay, and slate. Aside from ever-increasing levels of automation and some material gains in energy efficiency, the underlying processes have remined largely unchanged for hundreds (or 70, in the case of concrete) of years. And in many cases, for good reason. They’re robust materials that have stood the test of time, but we’ve started to understand more and more that this comes at a cost.

Understandably, intrinsically high-volume markets consume vast amounts of materials and energy, requiring significant infrastructure and elaborate, often global supply chains. This makes accurately quantifying a product’s carbon footprint infinitely complex for a number of reasons:

  • There is no universal methodology of how to undertake a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), or agreement of what (or how) things should be measured.
  • Validation and verification is difficult as it’s often all apples and oranges.
  • A comprehensive assessment would rely on accurate and honest reporting throughout the respective supply chain, with again, a common methodology.
  • LCAs are complex and expensive endeavours. There is no mandatory or legal requirement for their undertaking and for the time being at least, provide little commercial benefit.

Accurate, reliable data just doesn’t exist.  

We can say (don’t ask us how!) with a reasonable level of confidence that there is a minimum average embodied carbon of 5.3t and 5.9t in  standard clay and concrete roof systems respectively, although peer-reviewed publications put this figure as high as 9.2t. It’s unlikely that anybody knows for sure.

But going on the lowest estimates in all cases, to the best of our knowledge, concrete and clay tile installations would contribute over 2million tonnes CO2 emissions, every year.

2050 net zero will remain an enigma for many years to come across many industries. Much of heavy industry was established way before we all realised how damaging it could be. Change is difficult and retrospection is unhelpful. The horse has bolted, but there’s no reason things can’t be done a bit differently moving forward.

WHAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU CAN ACHIEVE NET ZERO?
Carapace has put a lot of love into developing a solution that addresses the effect before implementing the cause. We can replicate the aesthetics of any roof tile or slate (or even brick panels..but that’s another conversation) using waste aggregate from the slate quarries, which has been piling up for hundreds of years. But it’s also possible to use other fillers such as waste brick, fly ash or sequestered carbon, with a little tinkering.

Crucially, we’ve developed a new manufacturing process which doesn’t require any quarrying, pressures, high temperatures or the post-curing required of traditional materials. The full end-to-end process uses negligible energy, takes just 2.5 minutes to produce a tile and only has a one stage of processing – so it doesn’t require huge warehouses, kilns or infrastructure to achieve high volume.

We do use resins to bind all that waste because after all, roof tiles can’t be made of fairy dust and sprinkles. They’ve got a job to do and they must be robust and secure. But even though the resin comes with an embodied carbon almost 3 times its weight, it only makes up 20% of each tile’s volume. And combined with the minimal processing energy (which will be renewable of course) and almost ‘carbon free’ surfeit aggregates, the carbon footprint of Carapace is dwarfed by its traditional counterparts.

The key to our route to net zero, is its simplicity. Our recipe has only five ingredients, we’ve already verified the power consumption from our pilot cell and everything can be produced within a shipping container – so no need for big smelly factories for efficient LCA monitoring and control. 

If our numbers are correct, we shouldn’t have problems producing a standard roof system with under 1.1t of embodied CO2e cradle to gate; leaving a minimal amount of emissions to responsibly offset. Displacing 0.5% of the UK clay/concrete domestic house-building market would save at least 10,000t in carbon emissions each year, or 5 tonne per house and we’ll always strive to do more. One of our partners has been developing an awesome bio-resin and if we can make this work commercially, it’s a total no-brainer.

Moreover, its our vision to become pioneers in carbon transparency – opening our books to scrutiny and allowing anybody to let us know where we can be better – in the hope that other companies will begin to do the same.

WHAT'S THIS SHIPPING CONTAINER ALL ABOUT?
Great question. Materials for construction is big business. We have growing populations, deteriorating infrastructure and a prolonged housing crisis. Things need to be built at the right cost, and big industry is paramount to the UK’s socioeconomic health & stability.

Understandably, high volume industries generally require large factories, often costing 10’s of millions of pounds to reach profitability through economies of scale.  The barriers to entry are vast, leading to an oligopolistic marketplace, which has a tendency to stifle innovation.

Inspired by the the Factory In a Box (FIaB) concept, pioneered by the Manufacturing Technology Centre in 2019, Carapace has focused on efficiency and lean manufacturing techniques to deploy the first, fully automated pilot cell built to be housed within a shipping container. That’s not to say that the production solution has to be in a box, but the principals of design has the same benefits, including:

  • Resource efficiency: Negligible infrastructure, lean supply chain and a production cell ready for same-day deployment to anywhere capable of housing its footprint
  • Low power drawing 21kW/h @capacity – adopting renewables could further reduce its footprint. All that aside, energy costs continue to soar and this unlikely to change. Energy efficiency is paramount in an uncertain future.
  • Full automation: with minimal human intervention, monitored and controlled remotely through digital twin and AI technologies
  • Reactive production: Capacity can be flexible, without impacting supply chains or operational costs.
  • Rapid, intelligent growth based on empirical evidence. Growth can be iterative based on performance, not projections
  • Effortless Economies of scope – cells can be quickly reconfigured to produce any tile variety or heavily filled composite part
  • Continued innovation & optimisation over subsequent cell generations for a future-proof manufacturing solution
  • Minimal risk, maximum reward: Low CAPEX, OPEX, high NET margin, fixed cost & linear profit model with rapid ROI

And we’ve given ours a name. Introducing TARDIS – Totally Awesome Rooftile Delivery Inside a Shipping container (bit of a stretch, we know, but it sounds cool).

Here’s an infographic for more information

DO YOU HAVE PATENTS OR IP IN PLACE?
Sure do! We have ECDR, granted patents in UK, USA, ROI, Germany, France, Luxemburg and Belgium plus a bunch of trade super-secrets which will be patented in due course. 
WE HAVEN'T SEEN CARAPACE FOR A WHILE..WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING?
Well, we came up with a product which garnered a huge amount of attention throughout industry, and the demand was extraordinary. But commercialising in the traditional way would have taken enormous investment and a huge factory. Without decades to spare, or an opportunity to outsource production (we have a new and totally disruptive technique) there’s simply no other way to grow organically in a high-volume market.

Also, we had no money; just a product everybody wanted, an unproven innovative process and untested prototypes, so the odds were stacked against us. Our mantra was to start solving problems, and solving enough problems would surely get us to where we needed to be. We quite quickly realised how remarkably compact our system had become, so why not stick it all in a box?

But then how would you grow? The CAPEX of Carapace’ TARDIS is so low that if you want to double capacity, build another box. Need to manufacture a net-zero clay tile in Bavaria? Send them a box. Waste slate a problem in Vermont?…you get the picture.

So, we came up with an audacious plan to develop a super-efficient micro-factory which could facilitate a network of industrial partners to collaboratively achieve rapid capacity growth, but with shared risk and reward. Like McDonalds, but without the heart disease.

The distributed manufacturing model has been highly lauded for decades but there are few, if any examples of an enterprise taking this path as an alternative to economies of scale.

Until very recently, the biggest objection to remote, or satellite factories has been that operating and maintaining two factories is twice the cost and headache, but the world has changed. With turbo-charged internet, digital twin technologies and advances in AI, the few challenges posed by distributed manufacture are no longer pertinent.

Our plans were auspicious but again, undeniably audacious – we’re a micro company with macro ambitions and quickly realised we had much to prove, beyond all doubt if we were to build the consortium needed to make a difference.

So that’s what we did. In 2020 we locked ourselves away (like most of the world!), paused all commercial activities and turned to providing technical solutions for the private and public sectors. All profits (and time off!) have been reinvested into developing Carapace technologies behind closed doors ever since. We’ve come so far and we can’t wait to be a part of what comes next.

HOW FAR HAVE YOU GOT, AND WHAT'S NEXT?
We’ve made huge strides towards achieving our vision and answering all those niggling questions, which had been keeping us up for too many nights. Highlights (but not limited to) include:

Deploying an all singing, all dancing production line!

We’ve built, optimised, integrated and deployed a full scale, fully automated pilot production cell. It’s remarkably similar to the sketches we doodled late 2019 and it all works like a charm.

Self funded and built in-house, Carapace’s pilot TARDIS system is a fully automated, low power end-to-end production system which produces tiles, consecutively and repeatably at the touch of a button. The cell has been built with a single imprint, completing the full production of a tile in 2.5 minutes, or around 20 per hour. However, the system has been designed for the seemless integration of additional retrofitted tooling; producing up to 360 tiles per hour and all still within the envelope of a shipping container.

Controlled by a custom built HMI (Human-Machine Interface) the cell has been designed to serve as a full production solution, and an experimental test-bed capable of monitoring and controlling a wide array of user-defined variables, all throughout the system. 

Building in test-bed functionality has allowed us to put our design of experiments through its paces in a full-scale industrial environment. investigating numerous variants of resin systems, aggregates, additives and cure kinetics, the company can readily demonstrate the intrinsic flexibility of the system.

Why’s this important? Because you’re not stuck to a specific supply chain. We’ve made things work with a fair few formulations and materials, principally to be prepaired for when the bio resin is ready to launch, but also so partners can use whatever local surfeit waste stone they can lay their hands on. 

But still, the crucial part was validation, devising techniques, formulations and cure solutions to consistently create parts demonstrated to

Conform to all relevant EU standards in pitched roofing

100 consecutive tiles automatically produced by and freshly off Carapace’s TARDIS line have been frozen, thawed, bent, boiled, burned, aged, hit, smashed and assessed by an industry leader. Our in-house prototypes have been measured against a market leading product that is sold with a 60 year guarantee and the results were remarkably similar. And these are just in-house prototypes..imagine what could be achieved with support?

And we’ve done so much more.

As for what’s next, we’re working on lots of top secret commercial stuff and hoping for big things to come. Please feel free to give us a nudge, it never hurts to reach out. 

I'M DUBIOUS, WHY HAVEN'T I HEARD OF THIS BEFORE?
The best question, EVER. We’ve been working on Carapace along side our day jobs and couldn’t find any shoemaking elves to pitch in. But now our new automated production cell has been deployed and our crazy theories fully validated its finally time to get back out into the world and see what can be accomplished. The last few years have been challenging, but totally worth the sacrifice and we can’t wait to find out what the future brings.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE?
There’s a huge amount of content to be found throughout this website so look out for those links, but this is the tip of the iceberg. We have a confidential section of the website packed full of information and enough documents to fill a small library! Just ask and we’ll do our best to help fill in any gaps. 

And we’re always happy to chat so please feel free to get in touch via the details at the bottom of the page.

carapace-logo-wo

01446 679742

contact@carapaceslate.com

Carapace Slate Ltd. Penarth, CF64 5SY

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