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Films for special applications  #8(114), 2012

Founded over 40 years ago, the German company Nowofol Kunststoffprodukte GmbH & Co. KG offers on the film market special products of its own, including thermoplastic fluoropolymer films. Since 1998 these high-tech products capable to withstand extreme loads, are manufactured at the company’s subsidiary enterprise Nowoflon Produktions GmbH.

In recent years on the European market the demand has grown on fluoropolymer films for special applications, such as automotive, aerospace, semiconductors, chemical industry and architecture. Due to their exceptional mechanical properties and high weather, temperature and chemical resistance, these films can be applied where conventional solutions will not suffice.

Architects choose ETFE
A considerable part of fluoropolymer films as ETFE (ethyltetrafluorethylene) ones, is manufactured for construction purposes. After pretreatment such films are used by architects, e.g. as roof coatings of shopping centers, stadiums, swimming pools, atriums, aviaries, greenhouses, as well as elements of windows and facades. Say, the company’s film presented on the market under the brand name Nowoflon® ET 6235 Z, is being increasingly used instead of traditional glass due to much less weight and capability to combine different parameters. The distinctive features of this film are a high degree of transparency, excellent resistance to atmospheric, thermal and chemical impact, low flammability, as well as very high tensile strength and resistance to cracking.

Today already two thousand roofings around the world are finished by Nowoflon ® ET 6235 Z film, and the demand for this material continues to grow steadily. Nowoflon Produktions enterprise annually produces about 200 tons of Nowoflon® film, that approximately corresponds to 200 thousand square meters of roofing or the size of 20 football grounds. One of the largest construction objects with a roof of ETFE is an Eden project, a botanical garden in Cornwall (UK). Here 30 thousand m2 of Nowoflon® ET 6235 Z film was used.

These films retain their strength also in extreme weather conditions. An illustrative example of this is the new aerial ropeway at the Gayslahkogel mountain in Oetztal Alps (Austria). Nowoflon® films were used in construction of the lower, intermediate and upper ropeway stations at an altitude of up to 3.2 thousand meters above sea level.

Nowoflon® ET 6235 Z films are also available in color. At the moment the customer can choose any of the 20 colors offered. Stability of the used dyes to fading is confirmed by appropriate tests on weather resistance.

Revolution on the solar energy market
Films of Nowoflon® ET 6235 Z find various application in solar energetics. For instance, their use in solar thermal collectors can significantly increase collectors’ effectiveness. A high degree of thermal stability of Nowoflon® ET 6235 Z allows to halve the size of the absorption chamber of collector, reduce heat loss and increase efficiency. Simultaneously, the height and weight of the device can be reduced.

Absolutely new horizons opens the technology of flexible thin-layer modules. Today’s photovoltaic modules are heavy and can be mounted only at certain predefined place. The new modules are designed in a way that their front and back sides are coated with Nowoflon® ET 6235 Z film. These modules, called Nowoflex, are transparent, resistant to weathering and pollution, and - not least – very light. They can be directly integrated into the roofing of a film. Light weight allows them to be fixed at the roof of any type.

Nowoflon Produktions offers also other types of thermoplastic fluoropolymer films. Say, the films of Nowoflon® PFA and FEP grades can be used at extremely high temperatures (up to 260 °C) and in aggressive chemical environment.

Due to low processing temperature and high degree of transparency, the Nowoflon® THV film perfectly suit laminating of woven fabric.

Of special interest and promises there are the monoaxially oriented, polarized films of Nowoflon® PVDF grade. This grade is capable to convert mechanical energy into electrical one and vice versa. This is known as piezoelectric effect. Nowadays this principle is used, for example, in hydrophones. In future it might be applicable in power generation.

Seeking for new opportunities
Along with fluoropolymer films Nowoflon Produktions GmbH is engaged in production of films of other types, where each one represents a particular technical solution. First of all a two-layer Nowomelt film should be mentioned, which is used as protective coating for flexible pipes and is notable for optimal adhesiveness with metal, paper and plastic materials; secondly – a polyamide Nowobax film which is applied as decorative film or membranes for loudspeakers.

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