Composite panels, also known as sandwich panels or insulated panels, are often used to clad the exterior of buildings or to separate spaces within buildings.
Aluminium Composite Panels (ACP) with an expanded polystyrene or extruded polystyrene core may be considered as being fast burning, and composite panels with cores of mineral wool, stone or glass wool, or foamed glass are typically non-combustible. The NCC requires buildings greater than three storeys to use external cladding certified as non-combustible.
Advantages of ACPs include: weather-resistance, shock resistance, vibration absorption and easy installation, as well as the fact that they’re lightweight, cost effective and low maintenance.
“Advantages of Aluminium Composite Panels include: weather-resistance, shock resistance, vibration absorption and easy installation, as well as the fact that they’re lightweight, cost effective and low maintenance.” Grant Warner – CEO AIQS
Disadvantages of ACPs include panel facers that can be intentionally or accidentally penetrated, potentially leaving core material exposed to ignition. Intentional wall penetrations include door openings, or openings for the passage of utilities. Accidental penetrations include puncture through moving panels and impacts during construction.
Insulated concrete sandwich panels combine the strength and durability of concrete with the insulating properties of Styrofoam. Precast concrete’s key benefit comes from its thermal mass, which helps the material store heat and moderate temperature swings.
Identified advantages of precast concrete composite panels include;
- Improved product quality as a result of better technical control on the production of concrete in factory.
- It is not necessary to provide joints in the precast construction.
- The precast products can be given the desired shape and finish with accuracy.
- Reduced transport and storage compared to concrete cast in situ work.
- The work can be completed in a short time.
- The amount of scaffolding and formwork is considerably reduced.
Some disadvantages in precast concrete composite panels have also been identified however and are worth bearing in mind. These include;
- If not properly handled, the precast units may be damaged during transport.
- It is necessary to arrange for special equipment for lifting and moving of the precast units.
- The economy achieved in precast construction is partially balanced by the amount to be spent in transport and handling of precast members. It therefore becomes necessary to locate the precast factory at such a place that transport and handling charges are brought down to the minimum possible extent. ■
Grant Warner – CEO, Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS)