Aluminum Composite Panel


I'm looking for a good aluminum composite panel system for a project we're doing. But there are so many out there that I don't know where to start: Alucobond, Alcoa, Alpolic.

Anyone have experience with these? Any idea about which is the best/cleanest/nicest-looking system?

Jan 30, 09 3:14 pm

I'm right there with you farwest...and giving you a BUMP. I have some experience with Alucobond. It's a decent product.

What kind of price level are you looking for? Some of these get a little nutty PSF. Also, a lot of them don't maintain there look for very long.

Jan 30, 09 8:06 pm

I have a coffee coaster...of Alpolic.... It is holding up!....The project on the other hand has gone south.

Jan 30, 09 8:09 pm

If "made" shows up here and says it has insulating qualities...well sorry Dude....go get a White Russian.

Jan 30, 09 8:10 pm

alucobond? yech.

Jan 31, 09 2:28 am

holz, what's a good system then?

Jan 31, 09 11:57 am

My Aluco bond coffee coaster is holding up real well. It has the Chevrolet Blue Finish.

Jan 31, 09 4:06 pm

Yes, holz -- let us in in on the ultimate skinny... great systems, you've actually used.

Jan 31, 09 4:12 pm

northclad on one project, but it's not any better, might be cheaper.

but there are a few projects in seattle and outlying areas that utilize alucobond and it makes me gag.

Jan 31, 09 6:10 pm

I don't think an aluminum composite panel is the ultimate material, but it seemed to suit the job we're doing. Any suggestions for alternatives that are maybe not a composite panel?

What was used here, for instance? Any details?:

I've seen break-metal or sheet material tiled onto a surface and it tends to oilcan and look warpy as temperature changes. Or you end up having a shingled appearance (Gehry-style), which isn't what we're looking for. We're looking for clean, prismatic lines made out of metal material. We want the seams to read as reveals.

Jan 31, 09 8:51 pm

Centria's another.

Jan 31, 09 8:58 pm

i was going to suggest centria as well, but i know centria is very got value engineered out of a project we were going to use it on.

another option is to use a zinc-based cladding material. i did a bit of research on it about a year or so ago for a residential project, and it seems like a very stable product to use. the one manufacturer i can remember off-hand is umicore...their website is kind of clunky and kind of annoying to use, but i would suggest checking them out of you are willing to look at other materials.

i am personally not a huge fan of alcoa, just because of all the environmental issues they caused in iceland when they started building smelting plants everywhere and mining for aluminum. having been to iceland, the country is pristine and unbelievably beautiful, so knowing that it is getting destroyed kind of gets me worked up...

Jan 31, 09 9:25 pm

i've used vm zinc and rheinzink.

it looks good, but zinc is pricey in the u.s.

Jan 31, 09 9:34 pm

I suggest Centria without price in mind! Aslo, ArchiTed -- are use saying Umicore is a zinc based composite panel (with insulation, that is)? Now THAT I might be interested in.

Rheinzink is the best stuff on the planet, but NUTTY expensive. Plus, it's skin only -- as far as I know -- as opposed to if you are still looking for a panel system.

Feb 1, 09 9:41 am

And no 3-ring binders from Rheinzink -- I have there info / install / details book, and I do mean book... inch and a half thick, hardcover. Nice.

Feb 1, 09 9:43 am

You could also maybe look into some type of standing/flat seam application. In many cases, we have had the roofer install it and it has turned out pretty well. Cheaper than rheinzinc or alucobond.

Scogin Elam has a good example on their Clemson Automotive project:

Eventhough Gwathmy's Yale addition isnt that successful (in my opinion) I liked his zinc flat seam cladding. I can upload some pics of this project later. Im sure you have seen it though.

Feb 1, 09 10:36 am

farwest 1, I've used a number of composite metal panels, such as alucobond and raynobond, omegapanels, as well as plate aluminum (referred to as sheet metal in a previous post - the gage determines if it is "sheet" or "plate"). The composite materials are pretty much all the same (except for omage panels, they are backed with plywood and are pretty cheap and ugly, but will do the job if you are looking for cheap). The material choice will depend on your desired detailing and aesthetics, but it will also depend on your budget and your location (your pool of subs and what they are capable of).
The other half of the issue is selecting a fastening system and whether you want this to be a rainscreen system of a barrier system, caulked joints or open jointsm sizes of the joints.
Sobotech (canadian company) makes fastening systems for composite metal panels, so does Kanalco and Reynobond. If you specifiy a fastening system such as this, it raises the cost, but you can control the final outcome. You work with a set of standard details and design your panelization scheme based on that and the material size limitation. When you go with plate aluminum (or other plate metals - zinc, stainless steel etc), the possibilities expand, but your labor pool is reduced and your cost goes up. If you are looking for thetype of stuff you see on Gehry buildings, you need to talk to A. Zahner Metals. All their systems are proprietary, so they won't give you standard details. It will be more like a design/build process. All other composite panel companies, they usually have their details on their website, and if they don't, the sales rep will email them to you. Definitely talk to your sales reps and ask to be educated about the products.
Oilcanning can be seen with any metal panels - composite and plate. It simply depends on hoe much stiffeners they installed as well as the gage or thickness of the material. Sometimes oilcannig can occur if a rain screen system was used but the pressure equalization wasn't correctly designed/engineered. If negarive pressure builds up behind the panel, it will such the panel in and create oilcanning.

I recommend reading A.Zahner's books on metals. And call your sales reps for the different metal panel companies. Never specify a material without understanding its properties, limitations, potential cost, and specification/detailing requirements.
9 times out of 10, you will end up with a different MFR than you specified anyway. So you need to look at all options and write your specifications to target the system performace that you need to meet your design parameters.

Feb 1, 09 11:20 am

I have seen Gwathmey's project, unfortunately. It's a terrible building, and even worse when it sits next to the A+A, which I always liked.

Feb 1, 09 11:20 am

yeah, I even had Gwathmy take me on a tour of it, and I still didn't get!

You should check out the cladding though....

Feb 1, 09 2:04 pm

Yarchitect -- great little synopsis...awesome.

Feb 1, 09 3:24 pm

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