Thursday, 14 December 2017

How Has ETFE Become So Popular In The Construction Industry

More and more transparent structures are being used in constructing all sorts of commercial and residential buildings today. Traditionally, glass was used, but newer materials have been coming up lately. But, one drawback that has been seen with such transparent materials is that they are delicate or breakable, which is why they lack load capacity. But, with the advent of ETFE, this issue is seen to be resolved.

How has ETFE evolved over the years?
Since the development of ETFE in the 1970s by DuPont, its mainstream use in construction projects has been rising. Earlier, it was only restricted to Europe, but with the efforts of German-based mechanical engineer, Stefan Lehnert, the use of this material expanded widely across the globe. Realizing the amazing property of the resin of the material to be spun into a durable thin film with the ability to expand and contract, Lehnert began experimenting with ETFE; and soon realized the great potential of the material.

Later in 1982, Lehnert founded Bremen, Germany-based Vector Foiltec, as he sought to bring this material into the construction industry arena. With this thought, ETFE was first put to use in a pavilion roof of a Holland zoo. It then started being used in various roofing applications throughout Germany and England. Eventually, by the year 2000, ETFE started being used in various constructions, and became the limelight for engineers. Today, Foiltec has offices in 12 different locations in the world, and is working on more than 100 ETFE projects including gable roofs in aquatic places, indoor rain forests, indoor water parks, tennis facilities, etc. Tuflite Polymers is one of the reputed and reliable ETFEsuppliers in India who has partnered with the renowned Vector Foiltec to provide superior quality ETFE sheets and cushions across the entire sub-continent today.

The world’s largest ETFE structure – Water Cube, the 7,50,000 square foot National Aquatic Center in Beijing – showcases the material’s ability to bridge the gap between reality and futuristic design. It gives the appearance of a box made of bubbles by utilizing blue-tinted ETFE cushions in the roof as well as the four walls. With such constructions, traditional transparent materials like glass are seeing serious competition for projects where natural light considerations are an important design component.

Which unique properties does ETFE possess?
ETFE is transparent, cost-effective, energy efficient, durable, self-cleaning, and visually appealing. It can be manufactured into a thin film or stored as rolls, to be used a sheet or inflated into pillow-like units of varying size, shape, and colour. Also, it is so light in weight that it weighs only 1% the weight of glass, but it requires no such structural support as glass does. Glass if used longer than 10 feet would require structural support at every 8-10 feet gap. But, in the case of ETFE, 50 feet long panels can be used with no structural support required anywhere throughout its length! To add to this, ETFE can be stretched up to 3 times its original length, and is also puncture-resistant. Moreover, when exposed to fire, ETFE doesn't burn. It only melts and pulls away in sports where the flame is in direct contact with the material; thus reducing spread of fire and related hazards. Last but not the least, ETFE is recyclable as the material can be melted and re-used; thus one of the best options for environment lovers.

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