There are several distinguishing features separating Shade Structures from Architectural membranes. Here are five key points of differences to consider when choosing between the two for your commercial application.
1. Weather Protection: Many architectural membrane structures are made with Ferrari fabric which provides all weather protection in the form of waterproof. Architectural membrane structures are also year round structures, able to stand up to sleet and snow. With High density polyethylene fabric (HDPE fabric or shade cloth) air is able to pass through the fabric more easily causing less strain on the columns. HDPE is water resistant, but cannot withstand snow loads or year round usage. PVDF; however, catches considerable amounts of wind and acts as a boat sail. To counter this added pressure on supports and columns, PVDF structures will often have thicker steel to compensate for the impact of wind loads.
2. Fabric: The largest difference between shade and PVDF structures is the difference in the fabric itself. HDPE fabric generally comes from Australia or South Africa and requires shade companies to keep several colors in their inventory (generally around 10 colors). HDPE fabric is cut into segments which are then stitched together when assembling the canopy. Some PVDF fabric such as Ferrari (one of the largest PVDF fabric manufacturers in the world) is manufactured in France, and comes in over 30 colors. These fabrics are also generally stocked by a distributer here in the United States. PVDF fabric is wielded using high frequency wielders rather than the stitching used with shade cloth.
3. Pricing: Where HDPE is lacking in year round usage, it makes up for this difference with its inexpensive price point. Shade cloth often costs approximately five to six dollars per square footage. PVDF fabric is often a third more and up depending on the thickness of fabric used. A job such as the Denver airport would cost 5-10 times as much.
4. UV-Rated: With skin cancer quickly becoming a growing concern in the United States, skin protection is becoming a serious trend amongst Americans. High density polyethylene fabric (HDPE) has a 97% UV ratings, and PVDF structures are 100% UV rated. By choosing either type of shade fabric the commercial customer will be able to provide excellent protection from exposure to UVA and UVB rays.
5. Lead Times: The majority of shade and architectural membrane jobs that are manufactured require site specific drawings and designs. This trend results in approximately three to five week lead times. Despite this need for engineering, by going with a pre-engineered architectural membrane structure you can avoid these waits and have your product in one or two weeks and still get a quality product.
By carefully weighing the differences in HDPE and PVDF fabrics you will be able to select a shade structures that takes into consideration your: weather, budget, location, urgency for manufacturing, and fabric preference.