Aluminum Composite Materials or ACM panels are the construction material of choice when it comes to modern and sleek architecture and interior design. However, the quality you get will depend on the price you are willing to pay. While there is a range of ACM panels available in the market, they vary in quality which is apparent from the price. Here are some components and features that determine how much each panel costs:
North America Certified Materials
There is a lot of reason behind the certified ACM price when it looks expensive than none certified panels. National building codes require all products that are used to construct buildings, to have been tested and certified to the applicable industry-set standards by an accredited Testing Laboratory/Certification Body. There is a cost to have that kind of test and keep the quality meet North America's standards.
A typical ACM panel consists of two sheets of aluminum that are bonded to plastic core material permanently. Panels that are a bit pricier come coated with PVDF, which is a fluororesin paint which protects the surface from adverse weather conditions. In contrast, traditional top coats only provide an aesthetic element.
It also ensures long-lasting colour and gloss retention. All of these benefits combine for a durable finish that makes it ideal for wall cladding in hotels, industrial buildings, hospitals, schools, supermarkets, and especially office buildings.
Aluminum Coil Thickness
ACM comes in 6mm, 4mm and 3mm with the aluminium coil thicknesses varying from 0.12mm to 0.5mm. Based on this, they are divided into different grades. For example, there is a huge price diffrences between 0.3mm coil thicknesses with 0.5mm. Based on the application, clients must be notice when they are buying ACM products.
Polyethylene (PE) vs. Fire-Resistant (FR) Cores
ACM panels that are designed to be fire-resistant (FR) are worth their weight in gold and more. Panels that contain cores that are made just from polyethylene (PE) can ignite fairly quickly compared to those that contain non-combustible minerals as well.
Since PE panels that have a pure plastic core, they offer little to no protection from a fire. The heat from a fire will conduct quickly through the thin aluminum skin and right to the core, which will lose its ability to bind. This will cause the outer skin to deform and delaminate, thus ruining the exterior of the building.
In contrast, FR panel cores contain only a low percentage of polyethylene while the rest is made of a mineral fill. These minerals do not allow flames to spread and also limit smoke generation as a result. This is what makes such panels ideal for external claddings, roofs, and other applications.
PE clad buildings are notorious for catching fire. Most PE claddings are actually HDPE or high-density polyethylene cladding which gives the plastic core rigidity but also makes it highly flammable. That’s because when a chunk of HDPE burns, it generates more than enough heat to ignite another chunk that is close to it and so on.
A notable case is the Grenfell Tower, which just took 90 minutes to burn to the ground. When the HDPE panels caught fire, the tightly packed and long carbon and hydrogen chains in the polyethylene core broke apart at random points and the plastic melted. Since the aluminum that the panel is made of is a great conductor, it sped up the combustion process, and the building went up like a tinder box.
The bottom line is that the cost of the ACM panels will depend on the safety and durability you are looking for. Units that come with reinforced cores and PVDF coating can last longer and limit the damage from fires and adverse weather conditions significantly. If your budget can be expanded, choosing ACM panels that provide these benefits will prove to be a good investment decision.