Skyscrapers in Beijing

© istockphoto/Wenjie Dong

Building sustainably

The global construction boom continues – and durable and sustainable products are becoming ever more important. PLEXIGLAS® films ensure that facades and windows look great for decades.

According to estimates by the UN, two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050; currently it is about half. The global population is also growing strongly by approximately 80 million people per year. One consequence of these developments is the ongoing global construction boom, with experts estimating an increase in volume by 85 percent by 2030. Another factor is the growing demand for durable and sustainable products in both the architecture and construction sectors.

“There are several different reasons to explain the trend toward durable construction materials,” says Michael Enders, expert for construction applications at PLEXIGLAS®. “One reason is that durable components do not need to be renewed or replaced as often, therefore reducing costs while also protecting the environment.” Another reason is that construction often takes place in regions where exterior components are subjected to strong UV radiation and harsh weather conditions. “However, sunlight and rain are plastic’s biggest enemies,” says Enders. Plastic windows or exposed facade elements made from plastic are therefore often equipped with an additional protective layer to increase durability.

Protection against wind and weather

However, paints or other coatings are often very thin and are easily scratched, or can flake and crack. “The coating can quickly look shabby,” says Enders. “Our multi-layer PLEXIGLAS® films permanently protect exterior components.” They are used on buildings as a cover layer for facade elements and window profiles, amongst other applications. “The weather resistance of PLEXIGLAS® is unmatched, as it consists of UV stable molecules, which are mixed with high-quality UV absorbers,” explains Enders. “PLEXIGLAS® is therefore the material of choice when it comes to protecting facades against the influences of UV radiation.” The material is also completely unaffected by humidity and temperature fluctuations.

Sustainable architecture

PLEXIGLAS® films act as a protective layer for the materials underneath. PVC window profiles or facades can be equipped with a polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) film, to use the chemically correct term for PLEXIGLAS®, to provide protection against wind, UV radiation and chemicals. For example, a manufacturer produces facade elements from fiberglass sheets, which have a cover layer of PLEXIGLAS® film. The film protects the thermosetting resins and fiberglass, so that the sheets retain their aesthetic and bright appearance. Flat laminate panels, which are used as the outermost layer when heat insulation is retrofitted to houses, for example, are also protected with PLEXIGLAS® films.

New film plant in operation

“The application areas of our PLEXIGLAS® films are already extremely diverse,” emphasizes Enders, “and in the future, they will be used for further applications.” To this end, the Acrylic Products business area, which produces the special films, recently opened a new production plant for multi-layer films at the Weiterstadt site in fall 2018. “The new plant allows us to make particularly wide films with a previously unreached number of layers which will allow us to guarantee the durability of exterior architectural components for decades,” says Enders. The new plant also opens up new design and processing possibilities for facade design: “We can produce even wider special films, which in turn allow for larger facade elements,” Enders explains. Building facades can therefore be constructed using several individual elements, resulting in a homogeneous exterior which remains aesthetically pleasing over long periods.

PLEXIGLAS® films are available for various fields of use, including as light guides.