Fabric structures offer numerous benefits, including lower building costs, flexibility, speed of construction and more sustainable designs, among others. All these benefits mean very little if the structure itself is not safe and stable. Fortunately, with proper planning, design and maintenance, a fabric structure will be just as safe as a traditional building—all while outperforming it in terms of initial and ongoing costs.
Air structure domes are popular for a wide range of athletic applications, from tennis to football. Any activity that benefits from a climate-controlled space can cost-effectively get a long, flexible life from an air structure dome. Their benefits tend to inspire repeat business, like when the Tennessee Titans recently wanted to replace the dome of their air-supported practice facility.
Top finishes have been extending the useful life and improving the aesthetics of PVC-coated structural fabrics for decades. These top finish technologies make fabric structures more durable, cleanable, UV resistant and attractive—and they continue to improve.
Top finish systems can be divided into two groups:
1. Liquid-applied top finishes (i.e., solvent- or water-based coatings), such as acrylics or PVDF
2. Film-applied systems, such as Tedlar® or some PVDF films
However, not all top finishes deliver on the self-cleaning feature, which is critical for long-term performance and appearance. Architectural fabrics with Tedlar film top coats are the only products that truly deliver on the ability to self-clean over the long term. Tedlar’s UV performance cannot be overlooked either. Excellent resistance to UV and moisture-barrier properties preserve the appearance and longevity of the architectural structure.
Building-integrated photovoltaic systems are becoming increasingly popular as either the main or supplementary source of power in all types of building projects. Integrating flexible photovoltaic solar panels with fiber roofing systems is a fairly new innovation, led by companies like Pvilion, a designer and manufacturer of flexible photovoltaic solar structures and products.
When designing a new fabric structure, it’s important to consider a number of factors to ensure the best outcome and longest lifespan. Here we’ll cover some of the design and material considerations for most fabric structures.
Using architectural fabrics to re-cover existing structures is a cost-effective way to extend the life of buildings. But saving money doesn’t have to mean cutting corners on quality. When the U.S. Air Force needed to recover flight line sunshades on 20-year-old structures at its Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, it explored a number of options.
The Pentagon has recently been clamping down on adherence to “buy American” laws like the Berry Amendment and the Buy American Act. Building contractors working on U.S. government and military projects must be vigilant about the origin of the material they use.
When constructing a fabric building, many engineers, building owners and project managers come down to two choices—products based on polyethylene and those developed using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coated Polyester Fabrics.
Selecting the right choice for your product depends on your priorities, the environment of the building and other considerations.
Structural membranes are very durable. Physical damage can be inevitable due to the environment or uncontrollable circumstances, and the age of the membrane should be taken into consideration as this can make it more susceptible to tears. Although it’s difficult to determine how long a membrane structure will last, there are signs to watch for when determining if your structure is weakening.
Most architectural fabric buildings are white. If you ask the industry or marketplace why, there are normally two answers: Either 1) we could not get another color because of lead time or minimum quantities for our desired color, or 2) we were told colors fade quickly and are not a long-term option. Both of these concerns are valid, but the suppliers of these materials now offer options to address both concerns and give the buyer many more choices.