Cladding & Facades

Al Maryah Central ... to feature Alubond’s FR A2 panels.

Al Maryah Central ... to feature Alubond’s FR A2 panels.

Alubond system passes the fire test

May 2017

Headquartered in Sharjah with production bases in the UAE, Turkey, Serbia and India, Alubond USA is the flagship brand of Mulk Holdings and claims to be the largest manufacturer of aluminium composite panels (ACPs) in the world. 

The company has recently started manufacturing FR A2 mineral-core ACPs at its production facility in the UAE, after having been the first to introduce these fire-resistant panels (produced at its plant in Turkey) in the UAE market last year, in response to the country’s focus on addressing building fire safety.  

Alubond USA says it is the only manufacturer in the UAE to have passed the three-hour fire rating test and obtained Civil Defence certification for the exterior wall system as per ASTM E 119.

The UAE plant, which started producing FR A2 panels two months back, supplies the requirements of the Middle East region as well as India. The UAE is its largest market, followed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, according to AM Rao, director of Alubond USA.

These ACPs, used in exterior cladding applications, consist of two aluminium skin coils sandwiching a central core of mineral elements. 

The UAE factory has a total of three lines including two lines for the production of around 2 million sq m of FR A2 panels per year and the third line producing FRB panels conforming to Euro Class B.

While A2 panels are now mandated by the new UAE Fire and Life Safety Code of practice issued by the Civil Defence for installation on new high-rise buildings, the FRB panels are used in low-rise structures that are not public buildings, reaching up to 15 m high.

Following the issuance of the new fire safety code, Alubond has seen a surge in business in new projects and even in retrofit applications. 

Rao says the demand for these panels has been “very good”. “Of course, Alubond has been a reputed product in the market for the past 15 years and enjoys a loyal customer base of 700 to 800 clients who always turn to us first for their requirements and we are doing extremely well right now,” he adds.

He believes it is just a matter of time before the use of fire-resistant ACPs is made mandatory in existing buildings as well as those that feature flammable panels. 

“In fact, a lot of customers are showing interest in retrofitting the existing buildings which were clad with flammable panels by replacing these panels at intervals of two or three floors of the buildings and cladding them with non-combustible mineral core A2 panel system complete with cavity fire barriers for a minimum height of two floors. In this way, the building façade is compartmentalised and flame propagation is largely restricted in case of fire. This means they only need to replace about 50 per cent or less of the existing flammable panels with non-combustible A2 panels,” Rao says.

Alubond also offers ventilated fixing systems that come with a cavity barrier, which incorporate features such as fire-stops and/or galvanised iron (GI) panels that inhibit flame propagation to adjacent levels. The company provides two tested and certified systems – the open joint system and the closed joint system with fire-rated silicon – both approved by the Civil Defence authorities.

Among the high-profile projects that are using Alubond’s FR A2 panels is The Address Downtown Dubai.  The hotel is currently being dressed with 60,000 sq m of highly fire-rated FR A2 panels supplied by Alubond and is expected to be completed in October.

Other key projects where Alubond’s FR A2 panels are being installed include the Holiday Inn Hotel in Dubai Festival City (31,000 sq m of panels), which is expected to be completed in January 2018; Maktoum International Airport expansion (30,000 sq m) in Jebel Ali, Dubai, and Al Maryah Central at Maryah Island (14,000 sq m) in Abu Dhabi, both of which are due for completion in December; Elite Tower in Dubai Sports City, and Majestine Hotel at Business Bay, in Dubai; and Nasser Tower and Al Rashid Tower  in Sharjah, which are due for completion this summer.

Alubond USA is now actively pursuing plans to further develop its core line of business with the introduction of metal composite material (MCM) panels using exotic metals such as  stainless steel, copper, titanium etc, which Rao is targeting to launch in the market by early next year.

Other diversification plans, according to Rao, are introducing PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride)-coated solid aluminium panels and honeycomb panels into GCC market.

Rao also points out that Alubond is the only local manufacturer equipped with a large-capacity continuous coil coating plant in the UAE for coating coils using various paint systems with an extended choice of wood, stone, prismatic, and brush.

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