Building & Construction / Mechanical Insulation / Flame retardant bonding of facing material of pipe insulation

Flame retardant bonding of facing material of pipe insulation

Pipes are a crucial part of any occupied building. They form the foundations of utilities, allowing the likes of water, steam and gas to flow freely throughout a property.

Quin Dams
Market Segment Manager, Building & Construction
IHM, Performance Tapes Europe, Avery Dennison

Quin is passionate about technical building applications since he designed and built his family home back in 2012. Professionally, Quin held several positions as Product Manager responsible for the product life cycle of many technical applications related to the building environment, namely in Adhesives, Lighting and Plastics. He joined Performance Tapes Europe as a market segment manager for tape applications in the construction and industrial markets where he teams up with customers and R&D to achieve tape solutions that improve the installation performance and sustainability of buildings and related products and processes.

For the pipes to work as expected, providing cold and/or hot water on demand for example, insulation is required. Yet insulating pipes are not as straightforward as you might think.

Different pipes are used for different purposes and therefore require different considerations. Some might provide cold water, while others provide hot water or steam, for example. Equally, the potential for ingress of humidity and condensation also need to be considered – possibilities that may cause damage to the pipe networks or the internal structures of the building themselves.

And that isn’t all. At the same time, fire safety needs to be prioritized.

The role of high-performance tapes in pipe insulation

There is no single, accepted standard way in which pipes are insulated. Depending on the desired requirements and outcome, various materials can be used, ranging from mineral wool to PU and different types of rubber and polyethylene foam.

What is consistent, however, is the need for some form of closing solution – something that is achieved through the use of high-performance tapes in many cases. Much like insulation, there are various closing systems available that can each be used to achieve the desired result depending on the given situation. And they have a significant impact on the fire resistance rating of a pipe insulation.

Focusing on the fire resistance details

European Standard EN 13501-1 is the regulation behind the fire resistance classification of all products and building elements. According to harmonized test methods, each product is given a rating relating to its flammability in three key categories.

The first of these relates to the fire resistance of a material, spanning classes from A1 through A2, B, C, D, E and F. The former is the most resistant while the latter is the least.

Second is the S rating, indicating how much smoke is emitted from a building element. These range from classes S1, S2 and S3, with S1 being the most desirable.

And third is a D rating, relating to droplets. When materials such as plastics burn, hot drippings can be created, which can be extremely hazardous. Here, D0 is the most desirable certification.

It is important to note that these ratings are applied to an insulation system as a whole. Rather than ratings being given to the individual components of an insulation system – be it the insulate, facing material or closing system – the entire thermal insulation is classified as one.

This is why the tape/closing system can have a significant impact on the fire resistance rating of a pipe insulation. It acts as a layer of flame retardant protection. Once the tape burns away and the seal opens, the insulation is exposed and the fire is free to spread throughout the entire insulation and beyond.

Therefore, the longer the tape keeps the seal closed, the better the result of the burning test of the whole system.

Customizing the needs of flame retardant bonding

In one of our customer’s projects, fire retardancy was a key priority.

This was reflected in their decision to use non-flammable mineral wool that can be manufactured from rocks or glass for the pipe insulation. However, to ensure the entire insulation system was successful, the client needed assistance with the closing system to ensure a high fire-safety certification would be achieved. 

Here, Avery Dennison’s specialty of creating bespoke solutions to meet niche requirements paid dividends.

To uphold the fire-retardant properties of the insulation system, we set about creating a tape that used as little material as possible to ensure the fire loading potential was minimized. This was based on the simple premise of what is not there cannot burn.

We also developed a unique compound to be used in the adhesive that featured fire retardant properties. Through rigorous, innovative R&D, we were able to create a smart material that embodied dormant flame retardant additives that would only activate when called upon.

Crucially, these additives are stable under normal conditions. Where the insulate is left untouched in a building for two or three decades, the effectiveness of the fire-retardant properties will not deteriorate.

Achieving industry-leading standards in fire protection

Through rigorous testing in independent labs, the fruits of our combined, collaborative, innovative and bespoke labors were confirmed.

Thanks to the non-flammable focus of the tape that underpinned the fire safety-centricity of the entire mechanical insulation system, A2, S1 and D0 ratings were achieved, currently standing as a leading standard for the industry.

It was a project that tapped into Avery Dennison’s core values and philosophies. In order to create optimal, highly bespoke solutions, customization and innovation need to lie at the heart of our activities.

That heritage is built into all our products and service offerings. All Avery Dennison products are backed by world-class technical support, and contractors know they can trust our products to get the job done right.

Whatever the application, you can rely on Avery Dennison technology for your Mechanical Insulation needs.


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