Two large, thin aluminum sheets are bonded together using a non-metal core, usually plastic polyethylene (PE) or thermoplastic mineral filled core (FR). A fire retardant core (FR) is a panel that has a fire retardant adhesive bounded by two thin sheets of aluminium. FR core composite panels also offer similar benefits to PE core composite panels. The exception being that FR core panels offer compliance with many fire codes worldwide.
After bonding is completed, the panel is finished using either a metallic or PVDF paint. The resulting panel looks somewhat like a sandwich, hence the alternative name aluminum sandwich panels.
While the technology to create these composite materials has been around since the 60’s, recent requirements for sleek, cost-effective architecture has really increased the use of ACM’s for cladding, insulation and signage in buildings.
Designing and constructing structures in modern commercial and residential applications poses challenges like never before. Clients demand superior durability and performance against external and internal hazard; yet they’re no longer satisfied with purely functional buildings that offer little aesthetic value either. At the same time contractors are faced with the task of balancing limited construction budgets with strict health and safety requirements.
So how does the average contractor satisfy these disparate constraints and still deliver a great project on time? With aluminum composite material (ACM)!
• Easy installations – aluminum is an extremely lightweight, flexible material that’s far simple r to handle than steel or wood. That means ACM applications are far less labor-intensive, and large stocks can be easily stored as well.
• Affordable – While generally commercial buildings require panels that are at least 4mm thick, these can be cut to various sizes and shapes depending on the requirements of the structure; Which makes ACMs far more cost-effective than solid sheet building materials.
• Durable – The first thing to note is that the plastic core, central to the composite panels is made from fire-rated substances offering certified, tested fire resistance. Unlike other metals composite panels are rust proof, allowing them to retain, size, shape and integrity when exposed to even the harshest weather conditions. This makes them a great choice for cladding. On average ACMs last far longer than comparable alternatives, further increasing their cost-effectiveness.
• Versatile – We’ve already mentioned how ACMs can be cut to any size and shape, but they also come with the added benefit of availability in a diverse array of colours. You can even find ACMs that mimic the tone and texture of natural materials like stone, and wood; or even brick.
• Easy to Maintain – ACMs are waterproof and stain resistant, making them easy to clean. A simple dust down with a cloth will remove any accumulated dust and grime.
• Insulation – These panels are light and heat reflective making them a great choice for building facades, they’ll also help you maintain room temperature when used in interior construction.
While the light weight and flexibility of aluminum panels helps make application a quicker process, much of this efficiency is the result of various attachment systems developed over time. Depending on the environment and specific properties of the building itself, different installation frameworks are used to facilitate fast and easy ACM paneling.
Here’s a look at some of the most popular systems on the market today.