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Guest Column - January 2016

Building Solutions

In Full Color
New Options Make Tensioned Membrane Structures a Solid Choice

By Jim Avery


Long gone are the days when the only exterior color choice of a membrane structure was white. This limiting factor did not sit well with the architectural and local building code communities. Today, there are significant advancements in technology that allow virtually any exterior color to be utilized for sports and recreation applications, such as college and university, as well as professional sports teams. Combined with attractive glazing walls, graphics and energy-efficient insulation packages, these new color choices make a tensioned membrane structure a solid long-term choice for sports and recreation applications.

The choice of architectural fabric material is a critical element completing an engineered tensioned-membrane structure. Top-quality components make up the membrane material—strong polyester knitted fabric, coated with specially formulated fire resistant (FR) PVC. The fabric is then combined with specific top finishes that enhance its structural qualities, providing protection from damaging UV rays to extend the life of the membrane, as well as surface qualities that protect the structure from weather conditions (rain, mold, dirt, ice and snow, and the loads associated with it). Materials used in the top finish of the fabric membrane range from acrylic to advanced Fluoropolymer, each providing specific levels of appearance and durability.

All fabrics are available in white and a full range of custom colors. Acrylic finishes offer solar protection, dirt resistance and an economical way of finishing the final structure. Advanced Fluoropolymer (a family of films made from PVF and PVDF) delivers the ultimate finish for long-term UV protection, vivid color and a unique surface appearance used in the most distinctive frame structures around the world.

Lately, two advanced materials have emerged as the premium top finishes in membrane applications—DuPont Tedlar and Arkema Kynar. These U.S.-made top finishes not only offer superior UV resistance, but deliver superior resistance to dirt, mold and mildew and are virtually maintenance-free. The Kynar Fluoropolymer top finish is available in white, translucent and a full range of custom colors. It is also applied as a film or a liquid top finish.

The latest application of this technology is to offer the Fluoropolymer top finish in a printed application, now offering the possibility of unique and exclusive patterns for one's facility.

The use of color on the exterior lends design flexibility to blend into the surrounding environment and offers backgrounds to give the building a unique appearance.

Architectural fabrics with Fluoropolymer top finishes offer the longest life and highest performance. Membranes with PVF (Tedlar by DuPont), the industry standard, are set for low maintenance and longevity. The PVF top finish comes in Brite White, available in opaque and non-opaque (low translucent) to offer aesthetic light transmission. PVF in Milky White (non-opaque) offers greater light transmission for a "skylight" effect.

When structures need to blend into their environment, PVF is available in 11 different colors/tones for the perfect custom installation: Granite Gray, Sand Stone, Spruce Green, Misty Gray, Dawn Gray, Salem Blue, Concord Cream, High Sky, Highway Green, Bayberry and Desert Sand. The Tedlar film is composed of pure poly-vinyl compound and pigment. This combination of extremely durable compounds delivers consistent long-term performance (dirt release, color retention and enduring surface aesthetics).

Structures that combine the elements of high-quality frame components along with advanced materials used in the latest membrane fabrics provide a full range of design choices for today's recreational buildings. When quality and style cannot be compromised, structures with the latest PVF and PVDF top finishes provide the finest and most durable, yet colorful options to create your perfect building.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Avery is vice president for Sprung Structures. For more information, visit www.sprung.com.

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