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Metal mesh in building technology: Woven innovations from GKD

As part of an initiative launched by the Aachen Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Building in the 21st Century: Building Materials – Innovative Building, 400 experts from the building industry gathered in Aachen for two days to discuss trends and specific advances in the construction sector. Managing Director Dr. Stephan Kufferath from GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG held a talk on the architectural potentials of metallic mesh.

Originally a purely industrial material, metallic mesh owes its remarkable rise to success in architecture not only to its exceptional aesthetics but also to the never-ending series of new functional properties that the Düren-based company has added through continuous technical development of the material. In addition to stainless steel, aluminium and copper wires, GKD now also produces architectural meshes from all other weaveable metals. Depending on the specific surface design concept, mesh type and application, the wires may be left in their natural state, coated in a continuous or wet process, bead-blasted, anodised or even printed. GKD has developed a procedure for giving the wire its final finish prior to weaving in such a way that the surface withstands the forces applied during the subsequent weaving stage on heavy-duty technical looms. This is a crucial prerequisite for providing architectural mesh panels with colourful textures that are over eight metres wide and quite often 100 metres long.

Stephan Kufferath’s presentation also featured the Düren-based company’s latest development: a nanocoating that makes viewer angle-dependent colouring possible. In terms of function, and depending on the specific form of the warp and weft wires, GKD differentiates between three main mesh types for the fulfilment of specific tasks. Flexible and tensible cable meshes absorb wind and snow loads, making a minimalistic substructure a feasible option even in the case of large-scale installations. Spiral meshes, woven from flat wires and limitless in their length, have a particular flexibility which makes them perfect for three-dimensional façades or sculptures. Rigid meshes with precrimped wires in warp and weft direction prove their strength in ceiling constructions or as safety balustrades. But the main focus of Stephan Kufferath’s talk was on the four application areas of GKD’s metallic mesh systems that relate to the core demands on modern building technology. Using examples of specific reference projects around the world, he illustrated how the meshes can be combined with innovative technologies to create intelligent metallic mesh systems. In this way, they meet the sophisticated requirements for the optimisation of buildings in terms of acoustics or energy balance, for security concepts, or for medialisation. An excellent example of this is MEDIAMESH®, a metallic mesh with integrated LED or SMD profiles. Here, the aesthetics and the functional versatility – like sun protection and fall protection – that are typical of GKD meshes are combined with full HD screen properties. The patented mesh system enables round-the-clock display of illuminated advertising, image messages or art objects to the outside world without compromising the comfort of the inhabitants of the rooms behind the media façade. Such a unique profile of properties explains this system’s superiority to all conventional billboard systems and its rapid rise to worldwide success. To round of his presentation, the GKD Managing Director showed a closing video illustrating the expressive power, brilliance and sheer variety of the projects already realised with this innovative mesh system.

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