Building with fabric enables the creation of structures with stunning architectural profiles. In addition to providing "freedom through form," architectural membranes boast unique light transmitting properties that enable an open airy feeling of outdoor ambiance indoors, filling commercial developments, large sporting complexes and industrial facilities with diffused natural daylight. When lit at night, architectural membranes form distinctive and dramatic illuminated structures that enhance the interior and exterior aesthetics.
PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) Membrane is the most cost effective and common material choice for both temporary and permanent tension structures. PVC is available in a variety of colors and types to meet a wide range of applications and structural requirements. PVC membranes are coated and treated with specific formulas to protect against UV, staining and fire resistance. Warranty for PVC fabrics range from 5 to 12 years.
PTFE (Poly Tetra Fluoro Ethylene) is a Teflon coating over woven fiberglass fibers, a high quality material suitable for only permanent applications. It is UV resistant, noncombustible, and boasts a high reflective capability. Due to the smooth Teflon surface, the membrane is washed clean every time it rains and therefore normally does not require additional cleaning. With a life expectancy in excess of 30 years, a PTFE membrane structure will stand the test of time, with warranties for PTFE ranging from 10 to 15 years.
ETFE (copolymer of ethylene and tetrafluoroethylene) have specific advantages such as a translucency of 90%, high absorption of radiation, low absorption of UV and visible light that give associated advantages for use where covered landscape areas are required. ETFE is an increasingly popular film material that is typically used for pneumatic Cushion Structures.
Tensile fabric has become a popular building membrane for the following reasons :
- Long-life / Durable : Architectural textiles can be highly durable, with a long life comparable with traditional roofing materials: 15 – 30+ years. The composition of the basecloth used in tensile fabric architecture gives it strength, stability, elongation, and tear resistance. The coating and varnishes applied to the basecloth provide superior fire resistance, UV resistance, self-cleaning properties, and color fastness. Tensile structures maintain their original shape even after years of withstanding high wind and exposure to climatic variations.
- Sustainable Designs : Minimal materials are required to enclose large spaces and the fabrics are recyclable, making tensile fabric structures sustainable designs
- Lower Construction Cost : Using tensile fabric for the creation of large, free span roofs reduces the amount of supporting steelwork required, making construction easier, more affordable and faster to install than traditional building designs.
- Reduced on-site costs and installation time : A primary advantage is in building with prefabricated components which requires no on onsite engineering or fabrication. Therefore, build times are faster and the simplicity of installation reduces time on site. Installation methodologies, programs and safety procedures are all determined prior to mobilization so before reducing any interruptions once installation begins.
- Relocatable : Structures can be designed to be used at one site temporarily and relocated to another site; thus further increasing the lifespan of the structure.
- Low transportation cost : All components are prefabricated and lightweight, which reduces the cost of transportation of materials, steelwork and time on site providing direct upfront cost benefits.
- Natural Light transmission : Architectural membranes boast unique light transmitting properties that enable an open airy feeling of outdoor ambiance indoors, filling large areas with diffused natural daylight. The translucent nature of the fabrics available reduces daytime running costs.