Understanding the Types of Fabric Used on Tensioned Membrane Facades

By December 14, 2017 No Comments

Tensioned Membrane Facades Heat SealingTensioned membrane facades use technologically advanced fabric-like materials to span long distances along a structure’s exterior, and they undergo a great deal of pressure through the tensioning process.  Therefore, the membranes must be incredibly durable and reliable.

At Tension Structures, we work with the best membrane manufacturers in the world.  This allows us to guide our clients in choosing the materials that are best-suited for the unique requirements of their project.  When deciding on which membrane material is right, we begin by exploring the differences between polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) coated fiberglass membrane, also known as Teflon®-coated fiberglass, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) fabrics. Both fabric materials come in a solid or a mesh format.

PTFE Coated Fiberglass

Considered one of the most durable membrane materials in the industry with a life expectancy of 35+ years, PTFE-coated fiberglass has exceptional long-term stability. PTFE fiberglass coating is chemically inert and capable of withstanding extreme temperatures. The woven fiberglass gives the membrane its mechanical strength making it incredibly strong – up to 1,000 pounds per inch.  Due to its low surface energy, the material is remarkably easy to clean and maintain.  It is also completely immune to UV degradation. Whether it’s for an enclosed structure or a fabric building facade, PTFE-coated fiberglass membrane is a popular option because it passes the most stringent fire code compliance tests, including the ASTM E-136 Non-Combustible Building Materials Test and is Class A fire-rated.

Printing options are still in development, which means that tensioned membrane facades that require custom graphics may be better suited for PVC coated polyester fabrics.

PVC Coated Polyester Fabrics

With a great balance of price and performance, PVC fabrics are some of the most frequently used materials in the tensioned structure industry, and for projects with less stringent fire code compliance issues or a lower life span requirement, it’s often the best choice.  These fabrics are economical, fire retardant, printable, and available in many standard colors.  Combined with proper top-coatings, PVC coated polyester fabrics have significantly improved fire behavior, resistance to the impact of UV rays, and general longevity.

For projects that require custom graphics or that are adhering to a leaner budget, PVC coated polyester fabrics are ideal.

Manufacturing the Fabrics for Tensioned Membrane Facades

Once the choices have been made on the ideal fabric membrane for your project’s needs, fabrication begins within our 41,000-square foot facility.  Our in-house printing shop ensures all graphics are perfectly applied to the membrane, and then the material is welded with one of our two 35-foot RF Heat Sealing Machines to create the final panel size that will be installed in the field.

In the Tension Structures Division of Eide Industries, we specialize in design, engineering, manufacturing, and installation of structurally complex and creatively challenging commercial, government, and prototype design projects.  Our expertise with tensile facade systems and tension structures supports architects, designers, general contractors, and building owners in their efforts to bring custom tensile membrane projects to life.

Explore the options for your next project.  Contact one of our experts today by calling 800-422-6827.