ETFE Membrane Structures
MakMax boasts an international portfolio of ETFE architecturally designed projects, including stadiums, shopping centres, roof canopies, educational facilities, porte-cochere, walkways and distinctive project feature designs.
What is ETFE film?
It’s the new generation material which goes beyond glass.
ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) is durable, highly transparent and very lightweight in comparison to glass structures.
This modern membrane is considered the material of choice for skylight applications and architectural building facades, and increasingly used in conjunction with, or as an alternative to other tensile membrane materials for roofing structures. The flexible nature of the membrane offers an elegant and modern design alternative.
The Benefits of ETFE
ETFE films can be highly transparent (from 90% to 95%) and allow for the passing of UVs which are responsible for the promotion of photosynthesis, thus facilitating growth. As a result of UV transparency, the film will not discolour or weaken structurally over time.
Due to the lightweight nature of the membrane material, substructure support systems and concrete foundations can be designed more efficiently. ETFE systems also provide ample natural daylighting, thus minimising energy costs by lowering the demand for indoor lighting.
ETFE film systems can incorporate a number of different patterns on one or more multiple layers to alter solar performance. The film is printed with various standard or custom patterns.
From extruding of the film to transportation to site, compared to other similar cladding material, little energy will be consumed, thus reducing the overall carbon footprint.
In addition, the nature of ETFE systems enhances the building physics through insulation and natural light transmission, contributing to the global low energy aspect of the building.
Under exposure to environmental pollution, UV light, harsh chemicals, or extreme temperature variations, ETFE is robust and unlikely to degrade.
Easily recyclable, waste from the manufacturing process or even old elements can be remolded into new products such as tubing components and wires.
Colours can be introduced in a variety of ways. It can be applied during the film extrusion process providing a consistent tint in various tones from red to violet or by adding coloured lighting with changeable colour options.
ETFE Construction Technology
Single Layered Application
EFTE foil can be applied in a single layer form and is reinforced with cables, lightweight steel or aluminium to maintain shape and stability, making it a perfect lightweight fabric roofing option.
Double of Triple Layered Application
ETFE foil incorporates a pneumatic system to maintain air between 2 or 3 layers of film restrained in aluminium extrusions and supported by a lightweight structure creating inflated cushions.
These cushions are filled with low-pressure air, providing thermal insulation and structural stability against wind or snow loads.
If needed, small cables can be used for reinforcement. Under typical loading conditions, ETFE cushions can range from 1 to 5 metres wide and reach up to 60m in length.
Pneumatic cushion system
A pneumatic ETFE cushion system is generally supplied by one or more inflation units. Each unit consists of two redundant blowers forming a backup system for guaranteed structural stability.
The air when entering the machine will be dried to avoid condensation within the cushions. A series of pressure sensors continuously monitor the internal pressure of the ETFE cushions maintaining them between 5 psi and 6 psi.
In case of high wind or snow loads, sensors can automatically and continuously adapt the pressure to compensate external loading.
Depending on air temperature and humidity, one unit can supply a roof of up to 4500sqm. These units are UL certified and run on an 110V power with consumption less than 1KW/h.
Photovoltaic and LED Integration
Flexible photovoltaic (PV) cells and/or LED lighting can be integrated with wither a single layer or cushioned system to meet performance and/or aesthetic requirements, making ETFE the perfect fabric facade option.
The History of ETFE
Originally developed by DuPont over 40 years ago as an inert coating material for the aerospace industry.
First application in the building industry took place in the early 1980s in Europe
Gained recognition with three major projects, the Eden Zoo Project in 1998, the Allianz Arena for the 2006 Soccer World Cup and the “Water Cube” at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Article: ETFE, The Rise of Architectures Favourite Polymer, Patrick Lynch
ETFE films have been rated under different national and international standards as self-extinguishing with no burning drops. The film melts away at around 500°F.
Would You Like More Information About ETFE?
Contact us today to discuss your project requirements. We are the market leader in the design, engineering, fabrication and installation of custom fabric structures for a wide variety of applications and industries. We have extensive project experience and offer endless possibilities when it comes to custom design solutions to meet your needs.