Creating better buildings


The latest generation of mechanical fastening solutions for the building envelope is enabling architects to create better buildings, Vincent Matthews, Marketing Manager at SFS, explains why

The eclectic mix of buildings that surrounds us reflects the continuously changing tastes, trends and construction methods that drive building design and specification.

But underpinning buildings that are safe, secure, high performing, long lasting and visually appealing is advanced fastening technology, which is constantly evolving to provide solutions that are integral to quality, onsite efficiency and risk-avoidance.

By their very nature, fastening systems go largely unnoticed once a building is complete. However, making the right choices at the design stage is essential for the building envelope to be created to a high standard, regardless of the chosen façade panels, roof construction methods or configuration of safety systems.

That’s why SFS has evolved to serve the future of construction. The manufacturing site in Leeds has served the UK and Irish construction market for more than 120 years.

The needs and expectations of architects and contractors continue to drive SFS’s new product development (NPD) programme and the supporting resources needed to help apply the most suitable mechanical fixings, rainscreen support systems and lifeline systems.

Fastener innovation

Fastening technology has taken huge leaps forward in recent decades and SFS has been at the forefront. Despite being a relatively small component in the overall building envelope, fasteners are precision-engineered products, which are tailored to specific applications and environments to ensure that the finished building performs as it should.

SFS has developed a broad portfolio of fasteners that deliver consistent performance across different roofing or cladding constructions. This includes fixings for flat roofing, composite or sandwich panels and standing seam, but also the rivets and secret fixings used for rainscreen cladding and structural fixings.

Choosing the right fastener for the application depends on the building envelope’s design, its location and intended lifespan. We must prevent the fastener being the weak point in a roof or façade, which could result in air and water ingress, heat loss or security issues, and this requires a focus on the fastener’s design and type of metal used in its manufacture.

Rainscreen support

The specific requirements for attaching rainscreen cladding demands particular attention. Decisions about fasteners must go hand-in-hand with the choice of bracket and rail system that supports the cladding panels, which is where SFS has a unique advantage through its Nvelope systems.

All types of rainscreen cladding share the need for a robust and reliable support system to attach panels to the structure. The design of brackets and rails that form these support systems impacts on the performance of the building envelope and ease of installation.

Nvelope rainscreen support systems are mainly manufactured using sustainable aluminium, which is low weight, high strength, resistant to corrosion and easy to recycle. Specified correctly, these systems simplify the complexity of a façade and effectively address the multiple technical challenges that current applications present. These include managing the thermal differences between the materials being combined, the dead and dynamic loads, plus expansion and contraction of the façade.

Historically rainscreen support components and fasteners have been specified and sourced separately. Considering these products in isolation is, however, not consistent with today’s more joined-up thinking – driven by BIM – in which clients expect greater assurances about the long-term expectations of their buildings.

Taking a complete system approach to rainscreen support provides greater and more readily available technical insight and data to inform designers and contractors, reducing the risk of incorrect specification or product substitution.

Incorporating safety

A third dimension to SFS’s building envelope solutions is fall protection. SFS Fall Protection Systems work alongside building envelope specialists at the design stage to ensure the correct safety systems are incorporated to enable safe working on ascent of the building, while on the roof and on the descent.

At the core of this range is the SFS horizontal lifeline system, which allows for the posts to be fixed securely to the roof skin, whether it be a standing seam, a flat roof construction or corrugated sandwich panels.

The SFS horizontal lifeline post element features built-in shock absorbing technology which reduces deployment loads to the structure to under 6kN. Its internal features help to minimise the forces that rivets/fasteners would be subjected to in the event of a fall, spreading and dissipating the impact of multi- and single-user falls and preventing damage to the roof structure.

As major roofing manufacturers develop profiles of lighter weight and insulation of greater thickness, SFS’s horizontal lifeline system has been designed to complement these advances without compromising structural integrity or user safety.

The fully stainless solution is housed in a pre-loaded enclosure that is designed to withstand the stresses exerted by snow and ice build-up, and resist corrosion.

Helping specifiers make the right choices

Knowledge is power when gaining the maximum potential from fastening technology innovations, so it is important to clearly understand the benefits that specific solutions bring to the building envelope.

This is why the work of SFS’s specification and technical teams begins at the earliest stage of the project. Transferring advice into project documents via the specification is essential to provide a robust design solution that can be tendered accurately and procured in line with the contractor’s programme.

SFS’s range of practical resources includes a RIBA-approved CPD programme, detailed product literature and technical documentation, plus a host of digital resources. In addition to structured BIM data for fasteners and BIM objects for Nvelope systems and SFS Fall Protection Systems, this includes the unique Nvelope Project Builder.

Project Builder enables specifiers and installers to submit their proposed cladding requirements, from which Nvelope can provide a project-specific cladding solution complete with indicative M2 rates, static calculations and setting out information for the support system. It has also been recently upgraded to incorporate a powerful thermal software element, now delivering fast and easy project-specific thermal calculations.

Fastening technology is constantly evolving, enabling architects to realise their design ambitions for the building envelope, but the key to success still lies with correct specification and installation. By investing in these extensive technical resources, SFS is helping to ensure that lack of knowledge is easily accessible and no barrier to creating better buildings.



Vincent Matthews 

Marketing Manager

SFS Group Fastening Technology Ltd

Tel: +44 (0)113 2085 500

Twitter: SFSIntec


Please note: this is a commercial profile.


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