In the April/May 2010 issue of Surface & Panel magazine, an article discusses ways 3form's Varia Ecoresin is penetrating the residential market via the company's special programs and strategic partnerships. But 3form isn't the only brand showing creative uses of translucent panels in custom residential design. Acrilex, Architectural Systems, Inc., Armstrong, Duraglas, Evonik Cyro LLC and Lumicor among others offer earth-inspired lines containing organic-material interlayers, stone and mineral pieces, natural fibers, embedded woven textiles and even back-decorated wood grain designs with high-resolution digital printing.
Factors such as potential LEED-certification points, eye-pleasing light-diffusing properties, thermoforming capabilities, ease of fabrication with many CNC woodworking machines, limitless options in color customization and performance characteristics such as impact-resistance make resin and acrylic panels an extremely versatile medium. Residential design applications range from ultra-modern to transitional cabinet and furniture styles, and "plastics" increasingly meet trend-setting composite casegoods as well as solid-wood cabinetry in an array of horizontal and vertical uses. Like statement jewelry for a loft apartment, they're cropping up as space-delineating accessories where expansive laminate flooring defines a home's design. In other venues, cut-to-size sheets are easily utilitarian as cabinet panel inserts, work surfaces, backsplashes and also interior and shower doors.
Although acrylic and resin panels exhibit desirable traits of decorative surfaces and panel substrates all at once, cost-prohibitive price-points historically limited use in mid-range residential applications. These examples show some ways engineered translucent panels are joining composite wood products, solid-wood counterparts and laminates for interior schemes.
Definitions by Armstrong
(above) According to Armstrong, its Definitions line offers "spaces without walls" through creative placement of free-hanging decorative panels available in 13 finishes to bridge traditional and contemporary design. The 2-by-6-foot sheets are available for any size order direct through Armstrong, which also sells compatible hardware -- a cable system to hang panels from the ceiling or anchors for floor mounting.
"We've had many a designer get creative and cut or use the panels for cabinet door inserts in the kitchen along with pass-through kitchen windows and full-door inserts," says Vicky Landis, marketing communications project specialist for Armstrong Residential Ceilings. "The only caveat to this is that if you choose to cut the panels, it automatically voids the product warranty. Most designers don't mind this, though it's a key point for purchasers to be aware of." (above left) In a kitchen pass-through application, a designer cut a Definitions "Grass" panel to make sliding doors, allowing the kitchen to be closed off from the dining room. (above right) The backlit headbord in a "Pumpkin"/"Linen Clay" combination shows an alternative application to the Definitions line's primary use as a hanging divider.
R4 Resins by Lumicor
Both High Resolution and Woven varieties are available in Lumicor's R4 Resins, which contain between 30- and 60-percent recycled content from a network of pre-approved recycling facilities. (left to right) A kitchen incorporates translucent panels in aluminum-frame doors by Element Designs and features "Rain" from Lumicor's embossed series as a horizontal surface. Lumicor says embossed patterns add depth by creating organic texture as light passes through. "Chiroroot" from the Paper and Wood collection accents this striking bath partition. French doors by Simpson Door Company show a lively use of "Pearl and Amber Capiz" Lumicor translucent panels to compliment a bold wall color.
ACRYLITE from Evonik Cyro LLC
From the manufacturer of the iconic Plexiglas, ACRYLITE acrylic sheets appear in diverse interior residential applications such as partitions, shelving, cabinet doors, work surfaces, doors and furniture design. Where one ACRYLITE sheet performs well for cutting boards and chair mats, another is ideal for outdoor patio furniture and shower doors. An online shop provides small-quantity orders and custom cut-to-size prototyping samples as small as one square foot.
(above left) The illuminated wall divider is ACRYLITE Satin Ice acrylic sheet, which has a frosted appearance to the edge, offering excellent light diffusion. Its surface hides fingerprints and scratches. (above right) This three-panel partition shows lightweight ACRYLITE Deglas High Impact acrylic sheet glazing products. Originally developed for greenhouses, this collection is known for its UV-resistance and weatherability.
Architectural Systems, Inc. and Veritas ResinArt
Thanks to a recent partnership with Veritas, engineers of luminous, customizable ResinArt panels, Architectural Systems, Inc. offers a line of translucent panels featuring interlayer materials with titles including "Savannah," "Pine" and "Reeds". The ResinArt collection is PETG with a minimum of 25 percent post-industrial recycled resins to meet sustainability requirements. It is available through a quick-ship program with a lead time of one week. Veritas offers an online create-a-sample tool.
Additionally, ASI says its Kozo line consists of panels in vibrant natural fibers trapped in translucent acrylic that is ideal for backlit vertical applications. ASI's translucent panels, wood panels, flooring and decorative surfaces products are often used in retail, restaurant and hospitality environements but can also work for residential cabinetry, trim and feature walls. (left) Michael Wolk Design Associates used Veritas materials for this custom sliding shower door in a Miami, Fla., show home.
Ecoglas and Minerals by Acrilex Inc.
Daniel Rustin, director of new product development at Acrilex for 14 years, says the company's niche product is designing and manufacturing small orders of custom-created acrylic panels, often taking a designer's idea from the chem lab to its end use in a few weeks' time. Made from 30- to 50-percent recycled plastic materials, the new Acrilex Ecoglas line is the only acrylic sheet on the market today made from blended, dissimilar, recycled polymers. Also evironmentally sensitive is the Acriglas Minerals series (left), composed of 20-percent genuine Muscovite Mica flakes, which reduces overall plastic content. "This is a naturally occurring mineral is considered a 'scrap' material in it's raw form, but when encapsulated in an acrylic matrix is transformed into a machinable, formable and weatherable panel," Rustin says. View a video clip showing Acrilex fabricated with a CNC panel saw.
Chrysalis by Duraglas
Chrysalis Studio resin panels by Duraglas Incorporated are available in up to 98-percent recycled content in nature-inspired designs ranging from "Permafrost" to "Soliel". Duraglas says a PETG makeup gives Chrysalis a Class 1 fire rating, making it the only translucent resin suitable where fire codes are a concern. Duraglas markets Chrysalis as "one-size (4-by-8-foot panel), one price, one gloss finish" that allows for maximum use of natural light while still providing privacy.
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