I received a forwarded email from Rick Weinberg, director of communications and public relations, for ArmorLite Roofing Technology of Santa Ana. CA. Now I don’t get too many pitches from roofing suppliers since I cover materials used in mechanical design at Design News. But the pitch starts likes this:
“We have an intriguing story for you: ArmorLite Roofing Technology is launching in June a never-before-seen "seashell" design that is 100% recyclable with 0% waste. ArmorLite (www.ArmorLiteRoofing.com) is the innovative company that created a futuristic eco-friendly roofing product to compliment unique architectural designs. ArmorLite utilized an architect’s perspective when it developed its revolutionary product that transformed the roofing industry. With its highly-engineered, patented roofing material, ArmorLite’s creation represents the most significant architectural, artistic and eco friendly breakthrough in the history of the roofing industry. “
After a bit more hyperbole, it continues:
“ArmorLite is made from a highly-engineered, patented polymer. This is the first time a polymer has been used in roofing. Polymers have superior strength and are used in such applications as Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner jet, as well as the life-saving Kevlar bulletproof vest.”
For starters what does this stuff cost? Mr. Weinberg’s pitch notes that “ArmorLite’s seashell design was created for a palatial $10 million home on the sand in Laguna Beach, Calif.” I asked about the cost, but haven’t gotten a reply yet. I figure it’s got to be pretty expensive since the highly engineered, patented roofing material is a plastic that includes a capstock of Geloy XTW resin and a base layer of flame retardant ABS. I’ll bet that stuff is pretty pricey compared to asphalt shingles.
It’s recyclable? I know it’s fashionable to say that just about everything is recyclable. And I guess just about everything is theoretically recyclable. In terms of plastics, I know there are commercial recycling streams for polyester soda bottle and high-density polyethylene milk bottles. But not much else. Recycling roofing materials? Give me a break. Recycling bi-material roofing shingles? Not in your lifetime. Other vendors are pitching metal as a green alternative because it’s also recyclable.
The new plastic roofing material is also pitched as “eight times lighter than traditional materials, solving the industry’s century-old weight problems while reducing fuel and energy consumption”. Okay, I guess lighter is great for the guy who has to carry it up there. Plastics reduce hydrocarbon consumption? Does ArmorLite have a study to back that up? Where are they shipped form versus asphalt shingles?
The new polymer shingles (as well as metal systems) have higher solar reflectance than traditional roofing materials. That sounds legit.
Is plastic a great roofing material in California given the problems with wildfires that have plagued the state? The bottom layer is flame retarded. Is the top layer? What is its ignition resistance compared to those beautiful red tile roofs I’ve seen in California?
The pitch says this is great stuff because polymers are also used in the Dreamliner and bulletproof vests. What in the world is the relevance of this? The polymers used in the Dreamlner are about as far removed from thermoplastics as you can imagine. Too much PR puff in this pitch.
And finally who wants a seashell pattern on roofs? Or teddy bears or cobras, or whatever?
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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