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Outdoor Tensile Membrane Structure
Outdoor Tensile Membrane Structure

Some of our customer who need our assistance creating their dream tensile membrane structure come to us ready with their own ideas about the material they’d prefer and yet others leave it up to us to pick out the best fabric.  So for those DIYers or other looking for an idea on how we protect your investment, today we wanted to outline the key characteristics of the fabrics we use for designing and building outdoor tensile structures.

This article strictly covers coatings we use on external structures and should prove useful for any client who wants to learn more about the options we make available.

Testing And Design

The best place to start is by learning about the vetting each of our materials goes through before we consider using it in our work. Tensile fabrics have seen a lot of incredible technological developments, and today virtually anything that can be conceived can be brought into the real world. Today we use fabrics that are versatile, durable, strong, and consistent. This allows us to trust in the properties of the material and execute ambitious designs with confidence.

Every roll of fabric we use goes through biaxial testing to precisely measure its stretching properties in both directions. Tensile fabrics universally stretch when subjected to loads, and different materials will change over time when put in tension. Quality fabrics reach a predetermined tension point and stay there without displaying any propensity towards unwanted creep.

The Takeaway

You might be wondering what this testing means to you as a customer. Because we are constantly testing and verifying the consistency of the products we use, we can model customers’ designs in computer simulations with confidence. CAD tools are an absolute necessity in delivering fully-realized designs in a timely fashion, and keeping our computer models as accurate as possible allows us to keep development times to a minimum.

Longer Fabric Life Thanks To Coatings

It takes a strong material to last a long time in exterior applications. This is why we always strongly recommend the use of coated structural fabrics in crucial applications. We have two materials we tend to rely on over and over again in our projects: PVC-coated polyester cloth and PTFE-coated glass cloth.

PVC Coating on a Tensile Membrane Structure

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) coating is widely used in the structural fabric industry. Available in a range of different formulas, PVC coating can waterproof a fabric and also enable it to stand up to a range of threats like mildew, oil, dirt, salt, chemicals, and UV rays. We prefer to use a proprietary formula that adds anti-fungal ingredients to the coating mix. The result is a long-lasting fabric that looks great even after extended use in wet climates.

PTFE Fiberglass Coating

PTFE (Poly-Tetra-Fluro-Ethylene, AKA Teflon) coatings are especially prized for their great durability in a wide range of temperatures. PTFE-treated fabrics are effectively immune to UV damage and can be cleaned by the natural action of rainwater. The tremendous material stability you can expect from PTFE-coated fabrics make them perfect for projects that call for the very best in terms of fire and weather resistance.

PTFE fabrics are approved for use in most parts of the world, with national standards laid out for their use in the UK, Italy, France, Australia, Germany, Japan, and the United States.

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