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Plastics & Elastomers

You Say You Want a Revolution

SpecialChem / Aug 6, 2008

It's transparent, it's self-cleaning, and best of all, it's incredibly versatile. And despite the fact it was lauded in November at a 25th anniversary fete in Germany, the fluorocarbon-based polymer ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) is probably not a material most people are familiar with. However, that's all about to change. Thanks to the innovative engineers and creative architects involved in the structures being showcased for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, the unusual properties of ETFE are about to get their moment in the international spotlight. And as a result, more traditional transparent materials, like glass or fiberglass, may have some serious competition for projects where natural light considerations are a critical design component. It can be manufactured into a thin film, stored in rolls, and designed for application in sheets or even inflated into pillow-like units of varying size, shape, and color. A typical three-layer system consists of two layers measuring 250 microns thick and one layer roughly 200 microns thick.

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