Building Igloos with Leister's SEAMTEK

Product Stories11 Feb 2021

Lukas Ineichen and Urs Schmid from Leister Technologies AG, Switzerland, tested whether it is possible to weld an igloo mold with Leister's SEAMTEK welding machine. They explain how this worked in the interview below.

Author: Silke Landtwing, Manager Corporate Communications, Leister Switzerland

Maybe you feel the same way I do. When I hear the word igloo, I immediately think of lots of ice and snow, Arctic, Canada, Greenland, Siberia, polar bears, sled dogs and Inuit. I then asked myself, "How do the Inuit actually build their igloos?" I found the answer in the well-known "Sendung mit der Maus" (German only).

As it is explained vividly in the video, the Inuit first check the condition of the snow or ice. To do so, they cut out a "snow brick" with a knife. If the snow is firm enough and suitable to build an igloo, they draw a circle in the snow to show how big their igloo should be. Then they cut out more snow bricks inside this circle and build them up in an igloo shape all around. This way, the floor inside the igloo is lower than the surrounding area, which increases the stability of the igloo and provides more protection in the event of a snowstorm.

Igloo building in the Swiss mountains

If we wanted to build an igloo here in the Swiss mountains as a stylish snow hotel or for a particularly cool fondue dinner, we probably lack the solid snow ground that the Inuit find in the Arctic. In addition, our igloos should have a lot of space and be quite large. That's why we need another solution with the help of Leister. Product manager Lukas Ineichen and engineer Urs Schmid, who is particularly well versed in welding technical textiles, tells us exactly how we can build Igloos in Switzerland.

How did you come up with the idea of welding an igloo mold?

Lukas: "I always wanted to build an igloo and spend a cozy evening in it with friends. I knew that my colleague Urs from the TEX business line is experienced at producing inflatable, 3-D shapes with our SEAMTEK welding machines. After some thinking, I asked him if it was possible to weld an igloo shape and then our project was born."

Urs (smiling): "Of course, I immediately answered Lukas' question with 'yes' because our SEAMTEK W-900 AT is ideally suited for producing such 3-D objects. We started planning right away, with the design and shape of the mold, procuring the material and cutting it to size. In no time at all, we had all the parts together for welding."

Are there many other 3-D objects or inflatables that can be welded with the SEAMTEK?

Urs: "Yes, of course. For example, inflatable boats, inflatable tents, inflatable advertisements like archways at sporting events, structures for emergency tents, inflatable bouncy castles for children, emergency slides for airplanes, lifeboats for ships and much more."

Back to your igloo mold, have such igloo molds been made for a long time or is this a new idea?

Urs: "Igloo molds like this have been on the market for about 15 years. They are becoming more and more popular, whether for private use or for commercial use such as bars, restaurants or as hotel rooms."


Urs Schmid welds the PVC material for the igloo mold with the SEAMTEK W-900 AT welding machine from Leister.

How much material did you have to weld and which material did you use?

Urs: "In this case, we used 44 x 2.5 m or 144.4 ft x 8.2 ft worth of 'Material Sattler Complan 641 904 black (PVC)'."

Lukas (laughs): "Yes, it was quite a lot. It took us a whole afternoon to finish welding the 3-D mold."

How big did the igloo end up being?

Urs: "The mold had a diameter of 5 m / 16.4 ft and an interior height of 3.4 m / 11.2 ft, but there are no limits here. We could have made a larger or smaller mold."

Where did you build the igloo and how did that go?

Lukas: "We went to Melchsee-Frutt on a beautiful winter day. It's in the canton of Obwalden in central Switzerland at an altitude of exactly 1920 m / 6299.2 ft. There, we first looked for the right place, inflated the igloo shape with an air blower and then covered it with snow with the help of a snow blower. My friends and I were busy with that the whole day. Afterwards, we rewarded ourselves with a delicious cheese fondue, which we ate in the igloo, of course. We sat on wooden stools, but in proper style at a snow table."

Have you spent the night in the igloo, and will it stay there?

Lukas: "Yes of course, we also spent the night in the igloo, and it wasn't as cold as you would imagine. The igloo will stay there for a while and I use it with family and friends to be in the 'outdoors' even on stormy winter days."

Were there other igloos built with your mold?

Lukas: "Yes, two more igloos were built with our igloo mold. So almost a small igloo village, as there is in Zermatt, for example. The largest igloo in the world was built there in 2016, but from snow blocks and not with a mold, as in our case."

(Author's note: The largest igloo in the world was built in February 2016 in Zermatt and even made it into the Guinness Book of Records. The diameter inside was exactly 12.9 m / 42.3 ft, the interior height 9.92 m / 32.5 ft.)

Thank you for recording the igloo building process and allowing us to share the video with our readers here and, of course, for the interesting conversation.

Here is the Leister igloo building project in video. Take a look:

Are you looking to weld a large mold made of PVC material?

If you have any questions about welding large shapes, 3-D objects and inflatables made of PVC material, or would like advice, please contact Urs Schmid, Technical Sales Engineer in Leister's Technical Textiles and Industrial Fabrics business line.