Etfe materials bart article 2


What’s Next in Membrane Materials

08 June 2022 Bart Miller

This article by Bart Miller was originally published in the Q1 2020 issue of PanStadia Areana & Arena Management.


The evolution in materials is perhaps one of the most exciting and truly innovative processes currently happening in sports. National Sports Market Leader, Bart Miller, discusses the future of transparent foil membrane technology in stadium design.

“There is a ‘clear’ trend in the design of major sports facilities toward lightweight, transparent, and translucent materials for roofing and façade applications.

From the most state-of-the-art facilitiesin the National Football League to new builds in Major League Soccer and at least three roofed ballparks now being proposed in Major League Baseball, transparent and translucent foil membranes are becoming the material of choice for top designers in our industry.

Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) in particular has captured the imaginations of stadium owners and designers.

ETFE roof and façade applications create that authentic, outdoor atmosphere in an indoor, conditioned space, providing a protected and temperature-controlled experience. Lightweight materials reduce structural support requirements and costs—especially for long-span roofs—and allow for lighter, often more elegant structures.”

A clear but static roof eliminates the need for mechanisation and the operational and maintenance costs of a retractable roof solution. Finally, abundant natural light can reduce lighting and energy costs during operation.

Conventional ETFE also has some very significant limitations, including minimal mechanical strength and capacity to support environmental loads due to snow, ponding water, and high winds, resulting in closely-spaced structural elements and frequent cable reinforcment. ETFE exhibits poor or non-existent intrinsic thermal properties and must be layered an/or fritted, substantially compromising the desired clarity, to improve thermal performance. ETFE also has poor acoustic properties, creating challenges with sound management in large spaces.

Fortunate, revolutionary transparent materials are being developed to incorporate higher mechanical strength and better thermal performance. Researchers and material specialists at Walter P Moore are partnering with manufacturers to develop better solutions with each new project.

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