In 1938 Dupont first synthesised Teflon® PTFE (Poly Tetra Flouro Ethylene), which has very low friction characteristics and outstanding chemical resistance. The advent of PTFE paved the way for the development of other fluoropolymer products including ETFE (Ethylene Tetra Flouro Ethylene). In the early 1970s Dupont and Hoechst introduced the first commercially extruded ETFE foils under the brand names of Tefzel® and Hostaflon® respectively.
ETFE’s high tensile strength, resistance to tearing, excellent light transparency, and low flammability, meant that it was ideally suited for architectural applications. However, the high service temperature also meant that it was difficult to process. In 1981, Dr Stefan Lehnert of Vector Foiltec, invented a drop bar welding technique that was capable of welding large sheets ETFE, this breakthrough made possible the development of ETFE building cladding systems.
The first sectors to fully recognise the potential of the technology were the leisure pool industry and zoological gardens. The world’s first and oldest existing commercial Texlon® clad structure was commissioned at Burgers Zoo by Dr Van Hof in 1982. Dr Van Hof went on to procure several additional zoological buildings with Vector Foiltec, including the world famous Burgers Zoo Rainforest.
In the mid-eighties, the technology was being increasingly accepted and was used in hospitals, schools and shopping centres across Europe. However, it was still very much a niche product until it was selected as the best solution for cladding the Eden Project in Cornwall UK, completed in 2001. The Eden Project increased awareness of Texlon® ETFE technology worldwide.
The single largest application of Texlon® ETFE cladding technology to date is the National Aquatic Centre (The Watercube), one of the most important structures built for the 2008 Beijing Olympic GamesTM. The television coverage given to this iconic building resulted in Texlon® cladding being seen by millions of viewers around the globe.
Since 2008 Vector Foiltec has been involved in the design, manufacture and installation of structures and cladding for many large sporting venues and stadia around the world. The versatility of the Texlon® cladding system and a unique capability to deliver bespoke performance means it can resist the rigours of a wide range of external climates yet ensure internal environments best suited to the needs and comfort of users and spectators alike. ETFE is now not only considered an alternative to glass for all building types, it is the go-to material for stadia and arena design.
Vector Foiltec has been instrumental in acceptance of ETFE as a safe, cost effective and reliable material for architectural and construction applications