Architects' Viewpoint

Visit to SABIC Innovative Plastics Headquarters in Pittsfield, MA

One of the strongest partnerships AmeriLux International has is with SABIC’s Innovative Plastics Business Unit. This global company is the producer of Lexan* polycarbonate and a world leader in the development of plastics and chemical compounds. Last month, representatives from some of our architectural partners along with a team from AmeriLux were invited to Sabic-IP’s headquarters in Pittsfield, MA for a product development summit.

While in Pittsfield, we had the privilege to see firsthand the many ways SABIC is working to improve the performance and expand the use of plastics. After seeing and hearing about the many SABIC material applications, we had the opportunity to tour their state-of-the-art testing facility. The testing facility is a converted GE tank plant. A clear open space within the plant is large enough to fit three football fields. This facility allows SABIC to create custom test set ups for a variety of products. They also have standard equipment and stations to run a variety of ASTM and ISO compliant tests. Facilities like this offer the advantages of a global company to even our smallest customers.

In addition to an overview of SABIC’s capabilities, we learned about the development of new products specific to the polycarbonate glazing industry. Two of these products are a new 25mm Ultra Stiff panel and the Lexapanel™ standing seam system. The 25mm Ultra Stiff panel was developed specifically for Slaski Stadium in Poland. This panel has increased structure on the edges and thicker walls making it able to withstand loads of 62 psf over its 59” width. Not only is this panel an example of a high performance SABIC product but it also demonstrates SABIC’s ability to make custom solutions for a project. SABIC Innovative Plastics has both the ability and wiliness to work with customers for their specific needs.

The other product discussed during our visit was the Lexapanel™ standing seam system. While the Lexapanel™ concept is not new, the product has gone through considerable developments in the last year. This variable standing seam system is now capable of even higher loading capabilities. By using an ultrasonic welder, the legs of the Lexapanel™ are attached to panels of varying widths and structures. This gives flexibility in design that is not available in any other standing seam product. A redesigned clip and batten provide increased strength. This “increase in strength” was witnessed firsthand by the group when SABIC engineers performed a wind loading test on the product. In addition, pull tests on the welds, freeze thaw experiments and computer simulations prove the capabilities of Lexapanel™. The new Lexapanel™ standing system offers performance and flexibility previously not available in a polycarbonate standing seam system.

Over the course of our two day visit, SABIC demonstrated its commitment to product testing, development and customer support. If you are interested in learning more about these SABIC testing resources for your Lexan* applications or would like product information and/or samples of the 25mm Ultra Stiff panel and Lexapanel™, please contact me, Tim Fikkert, at 888.602.4441 or send an email to

Tim Fikkert, AIA