LafargeHolcim spreads Ductal UHPC to thin cladding, rainscreen applications

Sources: Lafarge North America, Chicago; CP staff

LafargeHolcim has teamed with South Bend, Ind.-based Shaffner Heaney Associates to extend Ductal ultra-high performance concrete—with 18,000 psi design and 25,000 psi ultimate strengths—to the thin cladding and rainscreen market. Long the domain of metal panels and, more recently, fiber cement, rainscreen cladding systems typically comprise galvanized bracket- or channel-mounted 0.5- to 1-in. thick panels, insulation and water barrier.

As profiled in the July issue of Concrete Products, LafargeHolcim and SHApe Architectural, Shaffner Heaney’s newly designated design, fabrication and installation division, are operating under the “Envel” façade banner. SHApe Architectural’s building enclosure expertise dovetails LafargeHolcim’s cement and concrete competencies. Shaffner Heaney began in 1972 as an architectural product representative/distributor and installer, and became a charter fabricator of Alucobond, one of the 1980s’ leading commercial building enclosure products.

“We want to offer the rainscreen and façade market a number of different products,” says Envel President Craig Heaney. “We started looking at thinner profile precast in 2011, and approached LafargeHolcim on rainscreen system opportunities. The architectural precast concrete market is mostly larger panels of conventional thickness. Many producers are unable or unwilling to scale from a 6-in. panel to a rainscreen or thin cladding product 1-in. thick or less.”

Ductal Architecture Business Development Manager Kelly Henry notes that self-consolidating Ductal UHPC mixes open “a world of complex forms that design professionals previously considered impossible,” and deliver finished products or structures exhibiting benefits and performance features such as impact and abrasion resistance plus low permeability to curtail carbonation, chloride ion penetration and freeze-thaw damage.

SHApe Architectural has commenced Envel production at Shaffner Heaney’s cladding and rainscreen fabrication shop near the South Bend headquarters. New and existing team members are equipped to build cladding and custom component formwork, along with formliners whose intricate impressions, patterns and textures eclipse conventional architectural concrete effects. The LafargeHolcim–SHApe profile can be viewed here.

SHApe crews prove the thin cladding profiles achievable in Ductal UHPC.
Scored geometric shapes on an early Envel cladding design appear to change color and shades when viewed from multiple angles.