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For high elevations, the choice is 3M™ Dyneon™ ETFE

Austria’s Ötztal Alps have a climate that often goes to extremes. Deep snow, gale-force winds, or temperatures that swing rapidly by as much as 60 degrees C are not uncommon. Levels of ultraviolet radiation can be as much as 60 percent higher in the mountains than in the lowlands.

© Bergbahnen Sölden, A. Niederstrasser

The Gaislachkogl car’s valley station, which serves visitors at one of Austria’s most popular winter sports areas, features a roof made from foils employing 3M™ Dyneon™ ETFE. (Photo © Bergbahnen Sölden, A. Niederstrasser)

Buildings in this challenging environment must be able to withstand exposure to conditions that can be punishing, and this has largely limited architects to solid construction materials and conventional designs. However, with the advent of architectural foils made with durable 3M™ Dyneon™ fluoropolymers, elegant new designs and lightweight buildings have come to the mountains.

“The Gaislachkogl cable car—serving one of Austria’s most popular winter sports areas—is the first to use the architectural foils at such high elevations,” said Helmut Frisch, product manager, Advanced Materials Division, 3M Germany. “The cable car’s three stations [valley, middle elevation, mountain] are a great example of the outstanding features offered by Dyneon fluoropolymers.”

Architectural foils on display

The key raw material used in the architectural foils is 3M™ Dyneon™ ETFE, a fluoropolymer well-suited for use in extreme conditions. It is a high-performance material that is non-flammable and resistant to ultraviolet exposure, and provides a high degree of thermal and chemical resistance.

© Bergbahnen Sölden, A. Niederstrasser

The roof of the mountain station is constructed with foils made from extruded 3M™ Dyneon™ ETFE. (Photo © Bergbahnen Sölden, A. Niederstrasser)

Nowofol Kunststoffprodukte GmbH & Co. KG, in Siegsdorf, Germany, manufactured the architectural foil to be implemented in the roof construction of the Gaislachkogl cable car stations.

The material is extremely strong, designed to withstand wind gusts of up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) per hour. The foil also helps lower maintenance costs by essentially making the buildings self-cleaning. Snow will not cling to the outside surface, and any dirt that finds its way onto the foil will wash away with a normal rain shower.

‘Triggering’ future projects

According to Frisch, the stations’ elegantly sculpted roof designs represent an opportunity to showcase Dyneon fluoropolymers as building materials. This is especially important as foil construction gains familiarity among architects, who are drawn to its light weight and high efficiency.

“This project is significant for us because it shows what our products can do for customers in this market,” he said. “It’s a nice ‘trigger’ for future projects.”


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