Latest Generation of Fire Protection Coatings Offers Architects Safe New Design Options

Latest Generation of Fire Protection Coatings Offers Architects Safe New Design Options

The technology being developed to protect the steelwork used in many of Britain’s modern buildings allows architects to design freely safe in the knowledge that their projects will be compliant as well as creative. Rick Perkins of Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings looks at a major breakthrough in intumescent fire protection coatings.

New materials are increasingly being developed for modern complex buildings and none more so than structural steel because of its benefits of safety, availability, sustainability, lightness of weight and relative cost.

However, in selecting steel for these striking steel structures – some of which are often left exposed as part of the aesthetic of a modern building – the architect also needs to know that they can be protected safely in the event of a fire.

At Sherwin-Williams, our Innovation and R&D teams have developed the second generation of intumescent fire protection coatings in the FIRETEX® FX6000 series to enable architects to break free from some of the constraints of yesterday’s products and become better focused on the needs of tomorrow’s designers and builders.

This patented technology brought to the market through FIRETEX® FX6002 employs a chemically cured binder system unique in this market to produce a tough and durable intumescent coating which dries in as little as one hour compared with days or even longer for other conventional products.

The revolutionary technology is already receiving praise from architects who value its high aesthetic finish especially on exposed steel, in part due to the reduced need for repairs on site thanks to the high level of durability.

Enhanced stability for steel structures

The unparalleled drying time of the coating results in faster overall project completion, with reduced costs, up to 120 minutes fire protection and long-term corrosion protection to the steelwork with the benefit of enhanced stability for steel structures in the event of a real fire.

From an environmental perspective, FIRETEX® FX6002 contains low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), lower in fact than some of today’s water-based intumescent coatings.

Rigorously fire tested under the requirements of European fire testing standard EN13381-8 & 9 and British standard BS 476-20 & 21 for structural steelwork and cellular beams, the technology is also independently certified under the Certifire scheme, and in durability testing under EN16623 it meets the requirements for Type X, internal, semi-exposed and exposed locations.

Leveraging the independently accredited Fire Design Estimator (FDE) software by Sherwin-Williams, FX6002 can be fully incorporated into a project’s design model and Building Information Modelling (BIM) operations.

With the use of BIM, speed of operation is dramatically enhanced, and as an example a 15-storey model full of varying span cellular beams takes less than four hours to complete with the risk of error almost wiped out, a vast reduction in time compared to previous averages.

Taking the development of software further, Sherwin-Williams R&D experts recognised the need for a technology that would enable an accurate and risk-free design process to allow the dry film thicknesses (DFTs) of its intumescent coatings to be seamlessly incorporated into the project’s 3D model.

In developing a relationship with Trimble – one of the world’s leading suppliers and providers of technology for the steel and concrete industries – they created a secure plug-in linked to its own software capable of handling every DFT complexity imaginable.

Peace of mind and safety

The plug-in has the added benefit of colour filtering to allow 3D analysis of the coating properties and enables accurate calculations for new developments as modern building design becomes increasingly complex, offering architects confidence, efficiency and peace of mind with safety built into the process.

Designed for use across multiple steelwork, construction and maintenance sectors, these technologies are an ideal solution for intumescent passive fire protection of complex modern steel structures worldwide including offices, retail, residential, warehousing, airports and healthcare developments.

Projects already benefitting from the FIRETEX® range of fire protection coatings include landmark construction and engineering developments such as London’s The Shard, the Leadenhall Building and Azerbaijan’s Flame Towers.

For more information on the diverse offering of FIRETEX® FX6000 technology, see the Sherwin-Williams website.

Rick Perkins is Global Technical Manager – FIRE, Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings. For more information, contact Sherwin-Williams, tel: +44 (0)1204 521 771.