The Airbus Helicopters development center in Donauwörth

A second skin for façades

At the Airbus Helicopters development center in Donauwörth, a translucent fiberglass façade ensures glare-free lighting inside and, thanks to PLEXIGLAS® film, it is ideally protected against all weather influences.

Façades combine design with function: They are the face of a building while allowing light inside and providing insulation, just like the fiberglass façade installed by Butzbach at the Airbus Helicopters development center in Donauwörth. The façade elements are protected by a PLEXIGLAS® film and are therefore resistant to UV light and humidity. This permanently preserves the aesthetic of the façade and the quality of light inside the building.

The ideal combination

At the Donauwörth site of the Airbus Helicopters, the aerospace company focuses on the construction of prototypes, development, production, service and training of helicopters. To create the ideal working conditions in the development center, the building developer and architect decided to construct large parts of the façade from translucent fiberglass. The high translucency of the material ensures shadow-free and glare-free lighting inside the building, enabling the entire façade and gate area to be used for passive, energy-efficient lighting.

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Façade elements made from fiberglass with a protective film made of PLEXIGLAS®

Clear structure, low weight

The individual elements of the VARIOPLANplus fiberglass façade from Butzbach span 10 x 1 meters and create a distinctive horizontal structure. In addition, they have a high static load capacity and only transfer limited loads to the building structure thanks to their low weight of about 10 kilograms per square meter. Their thermal transmission factor equals the figure provided by modern double-glazing.

Transparent protective barrier

Weather and aggressive UV radiation can cause damage to plastics such as fiberglass, which is why all fiberglass panels from Butzbach are coated with a protective layer, like the ones in Donauwörth. “By combining fiberglass with a protective layer of PLEXIGLAS®, we ensure high and consistent quality throughout the entire lifespan of a building,” says Holger Krehl, division manager for façades at Butzbach GmbH Industrietore. The specialist company processed about 4,000 square meters of the film made from Evonik’s brand acrylic glass for the Airbus project.

PLEXIGLAS® films

PLEXIGLAS® films are made from polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and are equipped with UV absorbers which provide different levels of absorption. They are produced in thicknesses of between 50 micrometers (µm) and 1,000 µm for both decorative and protective applications. The demand for these durable products is growing in architecture, which is why Evonik has been producing multi-layered PLEXIGLAS® films in a new plant since 2018, ensuring exterior components will look good for decades.

Krehl particularly values the PLEXIGLAS® film’s resistances to UV radiation, wind and weather, properties which make it a popular material for façades and windows. The PLEXIGLAS® film does not turn yellow and does not crack or become brittle. The protective layer also causes less dirt to cling to the approximately 2,000 square meters of façade and the 16 lift gates in sizes of up to 8.5 x 6.5 meters. The film also covers the fiberglass fibers, meaning the individual elements retain their aesthetic and vibrant appearance for a long time. At the same time, the high transparency of the PLEXIGLAS® film allows enough sunlight to pass through, enabling the fiberglass elements to conduct daylight into the building. This means one of the biggest advantages of fiberglass façades is preserved permanently and the Airbus engineers can develop their helicopter prototypes in the best lighting conditions.

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