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Fast-forwarding PVC fabrics' life cycle helps with determining coatings' durability

Sirris conducted accelerated aging tests to map the longevity of Veldeman Structure Solutions' PVC-coated fabrics.

Veldeman Structure Solutions has been developing, manufacturing, selling and renting out a wide range of aluminum and steel fabric structures for over 45 years now. This family business, based in Bree (Belgium) and having production facilities in Belgium and North and South America, provides these in various shapes and sizes, ranging from modest party tents to large temporary halls. Veldeman contacted Sirris to learn more about the durability of its PVC-coated fabrics.

 

  • Veldeman wanted to learn more about the longevity and durability of its PVC-coated fabrics.
  • Sirris used the QUV tester to perform accelerated ageing tests and simulate the effect of various weather conditions.
  • This meant a detailed comparison could be made between the degradation of uncoated sails and their coated equivalents.

 

Veldeman Structure Solutions manages its offices in Belgium and North and South America from its headquarters in Bree in Limburg. The company, which was founded in 1950, focuses on developing, producing and marketing fabric and tent structures. 

Sirris used the QUV tester to conduct accelerated ageing tests, and various weather conditions were repeatedly simulated and the sails were tested for their response. 

Understanding lifetime

Veldeman can choose from two types of coating as an additional protective layer for PVC fabrics, but the Limburg-based company had no idea whether they would stand the test of time. Does the colour of the PVC-coated fabrics fade with time? Do they have cracks after prolonged exposure to sunlight or other weather conditions? And which of the two types of coating offers the best protection from the elements? These were the questions the company had for Sirris's Smart Coating team.

Accelerated ageing

To find out the answers, we performed accelerated ageing tests on fabrics with and without a coating. This was done by using our Q Lab's QUV tester, a device that can predict a coating system's longevity and performance. We imitated various weather conditions and repeatedly subjected the test samples to them. We used lighting and condensation to simulate the effect of sunlight and dew. Furthermore, the samples were sprayed with water to map the temperature shock after a sudden downpour.

Before and after

The ageing tests were followed by a visual inspection of the color and gloss. The differences before and after the ageing simulation served as the baseline for working out the fabrics' durability. A bending test was also carried out to check whether the coatings are flexible enough not to burst when folded and stowed away.

The verdict: The uncoated sails had lost a significant amount of color and gloss, while such degradation was hardly visible for their coated equivalents. The bending test did not show any differences. The conclusion was that the coated fabrics are at least as flexible as those without a coating. Furthermore, these results gave Veldeman a better understanding of the situation, meaning it could further refine its PVC products using the coating systems.