ETFE Foils

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Transparent and Lightweight

Transparent foils made from ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) are the most lightweight and thin construction material available for skylights and façades. In contrast to other architectural membrane materials, ETFE is extruded and does not need any reinforcing woven fabric, making it uniquely light and transparent. A single typical sheet has about 90% visible light transmission and when multiple layers are used then this figure drops by around 7% per layer. A typical ETFE foil has a weight of 0.44 kg/m2 (0.1 lb/sqft) and when tensioned in a system it will typically weigh less than 4% of an equivalent glass system. This brings a significant benefit to freight costs and the environment.

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Solar Control

A significant benefit of clear ETFE is that it allows large percentages of UV light to pass, which is most important to plant growth or aquatic facilities. Where less light and some protection is required Novum Membranes ETFE foils can be inked, printed to standard designs or customized to specific photometric and thermic demands. Various tints of ETFE are also available, however not all colors are suited to every environment, we can assist with your design needs.

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ETFE foils have a close chemical relation to polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is also known as Teflon. Like PTFE, ETFE foils are extremely resistant against high temperatures and negative environmental influences. The chemical composition plus smoothness of the material means foils demonstrate a low dirt adhesion, so typical grime and dust do not cling to the surface. In wet climates this means the material often is referred to as “self-cleaning”. While this property is definitely of benefit, we do recommend checking the material and the system it is in and to perform nominal cleaning, just with water, under annual maintenance.

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ETFE has been in architectural use approximately 30 years. Due to their excellent chemical durability, correctly installed ETFE foils do not show symptoms of age even after decades of use. It is anticipated within the industry that life expectancy of 50 years is feasible. UV weathering has not appeared to exhibit yellowing or hazing.

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ETFE foils are acoustically transparent. This means very little noise is blocked by the material. That might be an attribute in a swimming complex but a negative in a concert hall.

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Novum ETFE foils correspond to international demands for permanent buildings for fire and performance. They have been tested and classified in accordance with ASTM E84, ASTM E662, NFPA 701, BS476, EN 13501 and EN 13823.

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ETFE is a valuable material that can be completely recycled. Novum Membranes pays strict attention to recycling all ETFE remains generated during production, at construction sites or while operating a building. The remains are carefully separated from foreign substances and mono-fractionally returned to the ETFE cycle.

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Design Characteristics

ETFE is an elastic material where creep and thermal growth have to be considered. It is resistant to impact (snow and hale) but not to sharp objects. Hence consideration to applications is important and we can provide advice. The material is weldable by a variety of methods and penetrations can be repaired.

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ETFE has found a niche where design for bomb blasts and explosions is required. Unlike glass which can shatter and become sharp missiles, ETFE behaves differently. In low temperatures due to its elasticity the material will either deform, pull free or in higher temperatures it can evaporate with no molten debris.

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