Leading Australian distributor of high-quality architectural cladding solutions Network Architectural has challenged insurers, government departments and agencies to take a closer look at one of the most pressing safety challenges in the industry.

“It’s clear that some in the insurance industry have been steering Australian architects and designers towards a single class of cladding (solid aluminium) because they’ve missed the science. They’ve mistakenly ascribed higher fire risk to all composite panels, rather than to the polyethylene core material of some composite panels, which is the real risk factor,” said Clint Gavin, Network’s national sales manager.

For example, ALPOLIC NC (manufactured by Mitsubishi in Japan) is a non-combustible mineral core (zero PE) cladding, which has outperformed 3mm solid aluminium in NATA-accredited AS5113 Large Scale Fire Tests.

“We’ll never sell 3mm solid aluminium cladding.”

Network Architectural is a strong proponent of the chain of responsibility and the duty of care it owes to people who are buying buildings, working in them and living in them.

“We believe so strongly in ALPOLIC that we’ve knocked back many offers for us to distribute branded 3mm solid aluminium cladding,” said Gavin. “We know it's a hot topic and there are still some doubters. That’s why we put both products to the Blowtorch Test.”

Scientific evidence is clear

Network Architectural had full confidence that this blowtorch test would demonstrate how the two products perform under extreme heat, having witnessed how solid aluminium performed in NATA Lab AS5113 tests, and given the team had already seen evidence that ALPOLIC NC was safer under these conditions.

It’s been an open ‘secret’ in the industry for some time that solid aluminium has some highly- concerning performance characteristics under extreme heat and flame.

Specifically, the results of all large-scale wall tests performed in Australia and around the world reveal that when solid aluminium cladding is subjected to extreme heat, large chunks of flaming and molten aluminium are seen to fall to the ground.

Network Architectural is issuing a challenge to all promoters and distributors of 3mm solid aluminium cladding in Australia to do the right thing and release their AS5113 Full Scale Fire test results without delay.