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Thursday | 04 December, 2008 | 4:21 am

We've got you covered

By Liz Sommerville

December 2008 - Kingspan Insulated Panels Inc., Deland, Fla., knows its way around the wall and roof panel market. Composed of four divisions, with six plants serving the U.S. market as well as export destinations, Kingspan specializes in design requirements for applications with factory-engineered, insulated composite panels and architectural single-element metal panels.

Product diversity
Kingspan API, Modesto, Calif., fabricates foam core, metal-faced wall and roof panels for the architectural, commercial and industrial, cold storage, and food processing markets. "We make a wide array of panels," says Eric Jurus, regional sales manager at Kingspan API. "They range from basic cold storage to middle-of-the-road commercial panels that look nice but are more suited for industrial building to our architectural product."

That would be Centurywall, a lightweight, high-strength composite building panel with factory-finished metal faces integrally bonded to a foam core. An economical alternative to expensive plate materials, Centurywall provides high insulation value and gives structures a sleek, modern appearance. "It catches your eye because it's horizontal and looks kind of like a modular grid system," says Jurus. "Architects love it because they can really put a lot of their design flare into it, and we can basically duplicate it in metal from their blueprint. We provide it in an infinite amount of colors, sizes and factory-customized shapes."

Manufacturing trailblazers
According to Jurus, Kingspan Insulated Panels, which previously operated under the name MeTecno USA, pioneered the concept of taking two sheets of metal and putting foam inside of it. "It's basically a sandwich of two sheets of metal with a urethane foam material in the middle," he explains. "There aren't a lot of companies doing this in the United States--we're definitely a leader in the industry. We have some products that no else does."

There are two ways the company makes its panels. Its main method is through a continuous foam place line. "Painted coils of metal go in one end, and a cut-to-length, packaged panel ready for delivery comes out the other end in a continuous, completely automated fashion," he says. "There's no physical labor. It's just raw material in one end and a foam, double-sided panel out the other end. It's an expensive piece of equipment, probably worth $4 million to $6 million for one machine."

For its higher-end architectural products that require customization, Kingspan uses a pressurized laminating system. "We'll take the outside skin, which is the exterior of the building, and the inside part and the foam core, and then we high-pressure laminate them together," says Jurus. "That gives us all kinds of flexibility to make custom requests like corners and shapes. The advantage of this process is that we can really control the quality. The disadvantage is there's not as much output because it's a slower process."

The majority of the panels Kingspan API manufactures are painted steel, but the division also offers aluminum, stainless and even a Stucco finish. "We use a lot of galvanized or galvalumed steel with a heavy-duty kynar paint," he says. "Kynar withstands the sun and is good for UV resistance. And because everyone is on a budget, painted steel is the most economical way to go. Aluminum is good for a marine environment, but it costs a little more."

On the job
Kingspan API's horizontal Centurywall panels were specified on the Public Storage Corp. facility in Orange County, Calif. Located next to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball stadium, the building's aesthetics were an important consideration in choosing the panels. Kingspan API custom manufactured Centurywall 2.5-inch-thick insulated panels in Public Storage's corporate colors to wrap around the entire 40,191-square-foot building.

"The panels are air- and water-tight, so no membranes were required," says Jurus. "They have a high R-value, which is your insulation factor, of 23 and provide a highly aesthetic exterior skin. We offer R-values up to R-49. Typical building codes are usually between 13 and 20-something. We can go double that, which equates to energy saving."

The company's large selection of insulated panels has helped its business stay afloat amid changing market demands. "In today's economy, demand for commercial and industrial panels has slowed a bit, but the architectural market is strong right now," he says. "The architectural panels are going on schools and hospitals and being used for government and military work. So our sales are strong because we offer an architectural product. If we were just commercial and industrial only, I think we'd be hurting right now. Thank goodness we have another product line that we can offer." MM

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