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What Is ETFE?

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Beijing National Aquatic Centre, known as the Water Cube

Beijing National Aquatic Centre, known as the Water Cube

Photo © Flickr Member Angus_mac_123
Definition:

ETFE stands for Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene, a transparent polymer that is used instead of glass and plastic in some modern buildings. Compared to glass, ETFE:

  • Transmits more light
  • Insulates better
  • Costs 24% to 70% less to install
  • Is only 1/100 the weight of glass
ETFE is often called a miracle construction material because:
  • ETFE is strong enough to bear 400 times its own weight
  • ETFE can be stretched to three times its length without loss of elasticity
  • ETFE can be repaired by welding patches over tears
  • ETFE has a nonstick surface that resists dirt
  • ETFE is expected to last as long as 50 years
ETFE does have disadvantages, however.
  • ETFE transmits more sound than glass, and can be too noisy for some places
  • ETFE is usually applied in several layers that must be inflated and require steady air pressure
  • Working with ETFE is too complex for small residential projects
More About ETFE:
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  6. Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene or ETFE

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