Flame resistant materials and components are a critical element of any construction or building safety project. It is the ability of these materials to resist ignition when exposed to a naked flame that essentially safeguards property and lives.
Whilst many construction materials have some natural resistance to fire, additional materials such as coatings can be applied or installed to restrict the spread of flames, giving people more time to evacuate a property in the case of a fire. This is commonly referred to as passive fire protection.
Whilst flame resistant construction materials have been used to enhance building safety since the 19th century, fire protection requirements bound by legislation and relevant standards have constantly evolved. This has placed more demands on the construction industry when it comes to the fire performance technology used in buildings, and for product developers and designers to create the next big thing or concept.
For example, a coating that provides a surface with a class 1 fire rating would stop the spread of flames across the surface. A coating that provides a class 0 fire rating would do this too but would also restrict the amount of heat released from a surface if it were to catch fire.
The choice of which rating needs satisfying normally depends on building regulations and the location and usage of the building. However, in light of growing safety concerns due to tragic incidents, and the ever-increasing size and sophistication of property designs, preferences often lie with the best in fire protection products. This is where Itac makes things happen!
Itac have manufactured and supplied an intumescent silicone graphite coating as a form of passive fire protection on fabrics for over ten years. Intumescent coatings are paint-like solutions that expand to form an insulating layer when exposed to fire.
Although polyurethane is widely used for intumescent coatings, silicone is often the chosen polymer due to its non-toxic properties and better performance when exposed to very high temperatures. The silicone in Itac’s coating is capable of withstanding temperatures of 300°C to 400°C and acts as a binder to hold the graphite in place on the outside of the fabric. The presence of the graphite allows the intumescent phase to take place upon exposure to extreme heat. The protective barrier that forms on the fabric pushes the flames away from direct contact with the face of the fabric providing that critical safeguarding mechanism of stopping the spread of flames and restricting the intensity of heat.