Are you using ACM?

Aluminium Composite Materials, commonly referred to as ACMs have been the controversial building resource making headlines since their implication in the Grenfell Tower Fire tragedy. It’s no surprise then that leading ACM manufacturers have been investing in engineering to develop products that are as safe as they are advanced.

Originally developed in the 1960’s for the building exteriors in commercial construction, ACM materials quickly spread to residential, sign-making and interior construction, becoming popular for all the right reasons. ACM materials are flexible, diverse, lightweight, durable, weather resistant and cheap. They offer architects creative freedom from colour to shape and they provide builders with a cheap and easy material to work with. However, their reputation for igniting dangerous fire behaviour and skirting lines drawn by various international fire safety standards have put ACM materials in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Fire safety has engulfed the industry, not only in investments in engineers producing fire resistant products but also making it the perfect marketing tool for leading brands. Alucobond are proudly advertising their product, ALUCOBOND® PLUS, having finally passed the AS5113 test – confirming acceptable fire performance. While Alpolic advertise their ALPOLIC®A2 as a world-leading product that is compliant with internationally recognised standards.

ACM materials are produced in a variety of ways. A PE (Polyethylene) core is characterised by the black thermoplastic polyethylene material sandwiched between two thin sheets of aluminium. An FR (Fire Retardant) core is similar in structure, with two thin sheets of aluminium encasing a white core. In this case, the core panels are thermoplastics with minerals that increase fire resistance. While no aluminium structure is going to be fireproof, due to the nature of metal melting at high temperatures, there are degrees of fire safety expected and enforced by various fire safety regulators around the world. So, the investment in increasing the safety of ACM’s hasn’t gone to waste – not only is there now a flexible, diverse, lightweight, durable, weather resistant and cheap product on the market, it’s also now safer to use than ever before.

ACM materials will continue to evolve to reach higher standards that put the public at ease, making it an easy option for developers to choose. Meaning it will fill our workshops and factories in abundance going forward. Working with ACM requires advanced machinery that compliments the product with precise sizing, routing and drilling.

Casadei Industria’s Alu Ranger range of CNC Machining Centres are specifically developed to work with composite materials including ACM’s; making sizing, routing and drilling a breeze and delivering the highest-quality results meaning you can work with your materials while maintaining their quality. The Casadei Industria CNC Machining Centres are expertly designed to conserve space, easily integrating into your small workshop or saving space in your factory for complimentary machinery to keep your production moving.

It’s imperative that the manufacturing industry supports ACM developer’s investment in safer products. With safer buildings, we can focus on innovative design and quality manufacturing that provides awe-inspiring buildings for a magnificent and safer world.

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