PLEXIGLAS® for durable construction
Components made of PLEXIGLAS® or with a protective layer made from the brand acrylic glass from Röhm look great for decades and do not have to be replaced as often.
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 predicting an increase in construction volume of 85 percent by 2030. Construction is increasing in regions where the exterior components are exposed to more intense UV radiation and severe weather influences. The requires construction materials that are suitable for these climates and which do not have to be replaced after a short period of time.
Durable construction components preserve the environment and reduce costs because they do not have to be replaced as quickly, a process which requires the use of raw materials, energy, etc.
As such, these products contribute significantly to the sustainable development of infrastructures as well as climate protection (two of the UN’s 17 goals for sustainable development (find out more here).
Sun poses a challenge for plastics
Plastics have long been an integral part in many areas of the construction industry. For example, they can be used to design organic and graceful shapes or impressively illuminated elements when integrated into façades. As thermally insulated canopies in greenhouses, plastics make a significant contribution to saving energy, while when used as noise barriers, they minimize disturbing sounds without obstructing the view of the surroundings. However, plastics are facing a major challenge when they are to be used in exterior applications, as many of them are sensitive to UV radiation: Sunlight can cause plastics to yellow or turn brown and ugly, a factor which results in them losing a large portion of their light transmission – ultimately requiring their replacement.
Unlike other plastics, however, PLEXIGLAS® consists entirely of extremely strong and UV-stable molecules – a development known as NATURALLY UV-STABLE technology which provides PLEXIGLAS® with its innate UV protection, making it extremely durable. (find out more on the durability here).
Better than any protective layer
Protective layers are frequently applied to many types of plastics with the aim of increasing their lifespan. However, paints or other coatings are often very thin and are easily scratched, or can flake and crack. The result is that the component can become unsightly in places where this occurs, despite the protective layer. PLEXIGLAS® is different, as the entire sheet is UV-stable, not just a thin coating.
This durability and the wide range of application options mean PLEXIGLAS® is a more durable alternative to many other plastics for exterior applications. For example, transparent sheets are used as façade or roof elements, multi-skin sheets are used as canopies for greenhouses, terraces or carports, while other variants of the brand acrylic glass are used as noise barriers or privacy screens. In these applications, PLEXIGLAS® contributes to saving resources and preventing CO2 emissions – after all, the entire life-cycle should be considered when comparing different materials.
Considering the life-cycle
Assuming the service life of a terrace roof covering made from PLEXIGLAS® is 35 years and that of sheets made from other plastics is 15 years means that these sheets must be replaced twice over the course of the service life of the PLEXIGLAS® alternative. The Global Warming Potential (GWP) of sheets made from different plastics thus increases significantly over the life-cycle; this despite the fact that at the beginning of the service life, these plastics produce fewer emissions due to their low surface area weight.
A wide range of design options for construction applications
Since PLEXIGLAS® is eleven times as impact-resistant as glass, it not only looks good and provides a clear view, it also protects people and animals. In stadiums, on machines or transport equipment, PLEXIGLAS® protects people from injury yet is hardwearing in permanent service. In public or large aquariums, it withstands enormous water pressure and turns a visit into a unique experience.
Protective barrier for other materials
But not only is PLEXIGLAS® itself very durable, its UV stability can protect other materials as well. For example, PLEXIGLAS® films can be installed on window profiles made from PVC, or other façades, to protect against wind, UV radiation and chemicals. When a wood decor print is applied, these films represent a more durable alternative to wooden windows which have to be repeatedly sanded and repainted at great expense. PLEXIGLAS® films are also applied to high-pressure laminate panels which are used as the outermost layer when heat insulation is retrofitted to houses, for example. The protective layer also prevents dirt from quickly collecting on the surface. Since they are easy to clean, they also contribute to durable construction applications.