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When you picture the city of the future, chances are good a series of soaring skyscrapers comes to mind. While very tall and interestingly-shaped buildings are certainly the standard signpost of future progress, there are other, subtler ways in which building design is always improving to help its human occupants as we reach toward the future. For example, as materials science has evolved, composite materials have begun taking center stage.
These advanced materials help today’s buildings use less energy, run more efficiently, and appeal to even the most discerning customers. Let’s take a closer look at how composites are changing building design and opening new frontiers in what we might expect from our structures.
Lightweight, non-metallic materials are already used to design aircraft, turbines, and yachts. Now, architects are exploring composites for a wide range of structures. Lighter buildings can be less expensive and take less time to construct. Here’s an example: Dubai architecture firm Affan Innovative Structures built Sidra Medical and Research Center by combined Dow Chemical’s existing Voraforce TF epoxy with carbon fibers. This new building material is somewhat like fiberglass. However, it is both 85 percent lighter than steel and yet twice as strong. Because the material weighs so little, the building’s wall panels need less support. The material is also resistant to expanding in the heat, which is key because of its desert location.
Composites for construction are becoming more popular with green designers in many climates thanks to the fact that these materials are strong, lightweight, corrosion resistant, durable, and low maintenance. Manufacturers are offering roofing materials made of composites, which may help to lower building energy consumption, while providing long, virtually maintenance-free service life.
Another interesting trend involving composites is the move by some designers to reclaim the use of wood as a building material, even for structures as high as ten or twelve stories. These innovative builders are using glue to strengthen softwood timber, creating a laminate material that is about 50 percent wood. Buildings in Melbourne and Bergen, for example, have been constructed mainly from laminates. Experts predict that the role of glue in construction will increase, with future houses, centers, and even towers glued together.
After all, we already have planes and appliances held together with glue. Why not office buildings?
Composites have the potential to do things that no other building material can. This is where we enter the territory of science fiction. A new polymer damage indication system, based on embedding tiny microcapsules of a pH-sensitive dye in an epoxy resin, has the ability to highlight places in a structure that are cracked, fractured, or stressed. This amazing property allows engineers to address potential problems before they become disasters. The capsules of dye within the composite building material break if the polymer cracks or is scratched. Researchers say the system has been shown to be stable in the long-term.
Magnum Venus Products (MVP) makes composites, pumping, and spraying equipment for making molds, adhesives, and epoxies. The rapid growth of cities and worldwide infrastructure in the near future makes the need for innovative building solutions even more urgent. That’s why MVP has built on their proven history of quality manufacturing to address this need with quality materials that will help its customers reduce waste, save money and time, and meet the challenges of tomorrow’s cities.
MVP. Customer Focused. Product Driven. To learn more about what composites can do for your project, visit MVPind.com today!