The Secret to Durable Fabric Building Construction for Any Application
Kagan Pittman posted on June 04, 2019 |

As manufacturing businesses grow, they need more space to house equipment and product, and they need it fast. Conventional, monocover fabric buildings are inexpensive, fast and easy to construct, but fail to meet industry standards for extreme weather resistance and need to be entirely reskinned for repair – wasting time and money.

However, recent technological advancements in fabric building technology have the construction industry looking up, with previously unheard-of designs for every application.

AGC AUTOMOTIVE is a major manufacturer of automotive windshields and replacement parts for OEMs. As their Elizabethtown, Kentucky, location expanded, they needed significant additional space to store manufacturing equipment and tooling. Because they wanted the natural light of a fabric building, they considered putting up multiple buildings.

AGC Automotive needed significant additional space to store manufacturing equipment and tooling. (Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)
AGC Automotive needed significant additional space to store manufacturing equipment and tooling. (Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)

Legacy Building Solutions recommended one structure 164 feet wide by 100.5 feet long, for a total of 16,482 square feet of storage. Legacy was able to engineer and install one building with the required square footage for AGC’s storage needs – saving the time, money and space that would have been required for two buildings. The trick to making such a huge fabric structure was in their custom-engineered rigid steel frame and unique multi-panel fabric attachment system.

“When people think of fabric buildings, they sometimes think of low-cost structures that you can put up in a weekend. Legacy’s fabric buildings use the same engineering principles as other pre-engineered, metal buildings,” said Juliet Brambrink of Legacy Building Solutions. “They're a modern building solution that meets all building codes and other requirements.”

Advantages of Advanced Fabric Building Structures

Conventional fabric buildings are constructed using truss systems with limited design options as they are fabricated in standard sizes, preventing optimization for specific applications. The movement of truss systems in wind or snow often means conveyors and collateral loads experience more swaying, resulting in increased maintenance and downtime when compared to similar systems hung from a rigid frame.

Fabric buildings on a rigid steel frame have straight sidewalls, affording more useable space inside and allowing the application of sidewall finishes, including metal and precast panels.

Sidewalls can be extended to any height, and with customized rigid I-beam steel frames to support all live, dead and point loads, additional overhead space can be made for viewing platforms, mezzanine expansions, overhead cranes and large equipment maintenance.

Accessibility for personnel, heavy equipment, machinery and manufactured components may require large access points or multiple doors to allow for quick entry and exit, or a separate entry path for people and machinery. To accommodate such space requirements, rigid steel frames make interior support columns redundant and allow for buildings of over 300 feet wide.

Durability and Utility with Engineered Fabric

Legacy uses its own ExxoTec PVC fabric instead of the polyethylene fabric common to conventional fabric buildings.

“ExxoTec fabric is a coated PVC with an inner scrim layer and three protective coatings on each side,” said Brambrink. “That coating is UV-resistant, so it's a really high-quality PVC material that has a grab tensile strength of 745 pounds per inch.”

The fabric allows entry of natural light and is non-conductive, creating a cooler building interior in the summer and warmer conditions in the winter for reduced energy costs. Legacy’s fabric buildings can be insulated to meet local energy codes, and HVAC and ventilation systems can be added to the building frame.

ExxoTec fabric is attached to the rigid steel frame using biaxial tension, pulling it in two different directions, to prevent it from moving due to wind or snow and provide a wrinkle-free finish.

“ExxoTec is up to twice as strong as the other fabrics commonly used on fabric buildings,” said Paul Smith, Sales and Project Design Representative. “The biaxial tension stops the fabric from moving and rubbing along the frames, which extends the life of the fabric. Individual panels are also easier and cheaper to repair and replace than the monocovers which are typically used.”

A strong fabric and rigid steel frame are not enough to make the optimal fabric building however, and so proper consultation and planning are required to effectively design around your application.

(Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)
(Image courtesy of Legacy Building Solutions.)

Designing Fabric Buildings Around Your Application

Bulk storage, manufacturing and light industrial work are more efficient if the building is designed around the operation.

“What you're going to do in a building, how people and equipment are going to access the building, energy efficiency and your ongoing maintenance costs, are all different factors that will impact the type of building you choose and the design of your building,” Brambrink explained.

When working with Legacy, an engineer reviews all building plans and factors that influence building soundness, proving correct loading and reviewing building location and purpose to calculate the base plate reaction at the foundation.

Legacy uses computer design and engineering software to include features such as lean-tos, offset peaks, overhangs and varying column heights to their designs. 3D renderings and blueprints are available to assist in the permit process.

Legacy fabric buildings are designed to meet all current industry standards. Based on location, current buildings are engineered to withstand up to 186 mph and higher windspeeds, 224-pound snow loads and seismic zone D requirements.

Legacy buildings are designed as permanent structures, although they can be relocated according to business needs.

Connecting with Legacy Building Solutions

Legacy buildings are designed using the same engineering practices and software used worldwide and is not dependent on an individual engineer calculating each part of the work. Legacy’s teams of builders, designers and installers meet regularly to discuss potential improvements to building systems of all their fabric buildings.

“We do all of our services in-house,” said Brambrink. “We handle the design of the building, the construction, the fabrication of the components, the installation, and keep in touch with you as that goes on, so you have time to focus on your business. When you contact us, you'll be matched with a design consultant and they will coach you through what is required.”

Check out Legacy Building Solutions Information Center page to see videos and webinars about their latest advancements and projects in design and construction of fabric buildings.

For more information, visit the Legacy Building Solutions website, here.


Legacy Building Solutions has sponsored this post.  All opinions are mine.  --Kagan Pittman

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