PE vs FR: What’s the Difference, and What Core Is Right for Your Next Project?
Architects, fabricators and designers know that ALPOLIC Metal Composite Materials (MCM) provide beautiful finishes to modern architecture, with vivid colors and styles to meet most design requirements. Though the quality of our materials is more than skin deep, even experienced industry professionals don’t always understand the differences between our two cores.
ALPOLIC MCM are produced by continuously bonding two thin sheets of metal to either side of a thermoplastic core. The core allows us to produce a sheet that is lighter in weight and easier to fabricate, with superior flatness and durability compared to other cladding materials. ALPOLIC produces two cores, which we refer to as PE and fr. The different cores provide the same variety of attractive finishes, structural performance benefits and come in the same dimensions. So how can you tell the difference?
It’s as simple as black and white (almost)
Visually, our core materials are easy to identify. ALPOLIC® PE, with a polyethylene core, is glossy black in color. ALPOLIC®/fr, with a mineral-filled, fire-retardant core, is a light grey color. Notably, our PE core is about two-thirds the weight of our fr.
Both are rated Class A under the ASTM E84 and the CAN/ULC-S102. Our fr material has been used as a component in a variety of wall assemblies that have successfully passed the NFPA 285 and the CAN/ULC-S134. For this reason, ALPOLIC recommends using fr core material when applied over 40 foot from grade.
Taking out the guesswork
Responsible building design requires that everyone, from the building owner to the architect to the contractor, take fire safety seriously. There are many layers of fire protection, such as prevention, suppression, and compartmentalization. Selecting the appropriate building materials are an important part of that conversation. ALPOLIC is here to help make sure buildings clad in MCM are both beautiful and code compliant.