In Search of Innovation and Excellence

In Search of Innovation and Excellence

Swisspearl is innovative, flexible, and exacting when it comes to accommodating clients’ needs and wishes for fiber cement panels. A crucial role in the product development process is played by the Research and Development department in Niederurnen, Switzerland, in collaboration with the laboratories in Vöcklabruck, Austria and Anhovo, Slovenia. This team of experts is constantly developing new products and systems, perfecting existing ones, and ensuring the overall quality, durability and sustainability of the Swisspearl portfolio.

The following article offer a glimpse into that process, highlighting some of the fascinating machines that play a part.

Roughly two dozen experts are on staff at the Swiss site, including chemists, construction engineers, coating technology specialists, and a range of highly qualified technicians and assistants. One of their main activities is a rigorous testing process that submits all product types to the kinds of stress and wear and tear that can occur in any given location or climate.

Meeting Client Needs

In a first phase, the research team discusses each new challenge and draws up the plans for the product to be tested, based on a client’s particular needs. Swisspearl offers a whole palette of colors — both in the cement mixture itself, and in the coatings used — to ensure not only a durable product but also a long-lasting color finish suitable to each individual project.

The main R & D department is located in Niederurnen, Switzerland.
Members of the R & D team discuss how new material elements can be used to expand the product range.

Creating Prototypes

In this phase, the fiber cement is mixed according to the corresponding formula, and test prototypes are produced using the affectionately named “mini machine,” which is uniquely suited to creating test-size sample panels that fully represent the characteristics of the life-size product. The panels are then cut and pressed, and dried for cement hydration, before they undergo a series of tests.

The Mini Hatschek machine creates test-size prototypes with all the qualities of the full-size product.
The panel sprayer applies the coating to the prototype.

Testing, testing, testing!

The outdoor weathering unit tests the steadfastness of the coatings in real-life conditions over a period of years.

These stress tests mimic the whole range of weather challenges — rain, wind, heat, cold, and UV rays — as well as the installation process and the wear and tear of use. Testing color values is of course also a priority. It is worth noting that, along with the in-house testing processes portrayed here, Swisspearl products also undergo strict evaluations through external certification bodies before they are put on the market.

In the laboratory, the color coatings undergo UV resistance tests.
The color properties of the panels are examined as well.
Here the panel prototypes are tested for durability and resistance to breakage, simulating wind loads.
The heat-rain test simulates extreme climate conditions with high temperatures and heavy precipitation.
The panel prototypes undergo further material stress tests using the rain machine.

Certification

Because norms and standards differ from place to place, Swisspearl panels also undergo country-specific tests before they are launched in the corresponding markets. Accredited testing institutes grant the final authorization, based on the relevant national guidelines. One important area for testing is fire resistance.

Setting up for an on-site fire safety test.

NICE TO KNOW

Text
Marcy Goldberg

Photos
Andrea Badrutt


Read more – Swisspearl Architecture magazine

Read the full report and more stories in our  Swisspearl Architecture #29. Subscribe to our magazine to get the printed issue.

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