31.10.2010

Lightweight construction with plastics

Plastics are particularly suitable for lightweight constructions. The material has a very low net weight and they at least partially combine this characteristic with high rigidity. For these reasons, plastics are increasingly being used in the high-tech sectors of aircraft construction, shipbuilding, and automotive and civil engineering in particular. But they can also be intelligently and economically applied to building construction: being able to save material leads to reduced costs and conservation of resources. Their evolution also naturally follows the principle of structural optimisation, meaning that they can boast an abundance of lightweight structures. However, designs and concepts cannot, for the most part, be directly copied from the engineering disciplines or nature, because the function, requirements and impact are fundamentally different. Net weight is reduced to the necessary minimum via an optimisation process that depends on the material and geometry. Here, significant emphasis is placed on both a low specific material weight and, in particular, the intelligent geometric arrangement of the components or the selection of ingenious load bearing systems geared to the distribution of forces. The potential of heavy-duty plastics in the building envelope and supporting structure fields of application is very closely linked with construction technologies, formal principles, and design and manufacturing methods. The article describes selected development trends, alongside restrictions for the use of plastics in the construction industry.
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