Just as modernism promoted the transparency of mid-20th century glass architecture as a symbol of a better human world. Today, innovative architecture is created with a fluoropolymer that exhibits high performance properties. I’m talking about Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene or ETFE.
ETFE has become a dearest material in futuristic facades. We can see it in singular buildings such as football stadiums, Olympic aquatics centres, airports and shopping malls. This fact can be related to its unique features:
ETFE PROPERTIES IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
Clean and sustainable
ETFE film is self-cleaning -due to its nonstick surface- and easy recyclable. Old elements can be remolded into new products such as ETFE tubing components, wires or castings.
Transparency and solar control
The standard ETFE transparency index goes from 90% to 95% and ETFE films don’t block UVs. This light transmission can be regulated by reducing this index or adding printed patterns during the manufacturing process.
Tensile strength and elasticity
ETFE membrane has an approximate tensile strength of 42 MPa, with a working range of −185°C to +150°C. It also can be stretched to three times its length without loss of elasticity.
Long resistance and longevity
ETFE resins are resistant to ultraviolet light. An accelerated weathering test -comparable to 30 years’ exposure- produces almost no signs of deterioration.
Lightweights and cost reduction
ETFE is only 1/100 weight than glass. Due to its lightweight nature, substructure support systems and foundations can be reduced.
ETFE facades offer innumerable opportunities for architectural expression, with complex geometries being structurally achievable and economically attractive.
SO… ITS PLASTIC THE FUTURE?
New materials, designs and construction techniques play a major role in state of contemporary facades. Today’s diversity in lightweight facade options available is one of the key facts for its worldwide success.
In near future we will see ETFE solutions more and more often in facade applications becoming an integral part of contemporary architecture cohabiting with new generations of interesting high-performance glazing.
References and Complementary Information
- Fluoroplastic Comparison – Typical Properties
- ETFE – Designing Buildings Wiki
- ETFE Foil: A Guide to Design
- Engineering The Watercube
Build is my passion, facades are my specialty. I have collaborated in 73 ventilated and double-skin facade projects built worldwide, principally in America, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.
I’m passionate about new technologies in construction, 3D printing, professional and personal challenges. My next goal? Learn Chinese!
If you think we can stablish synergies, feel free to write me.