Decorative metal panels have emerged as a prominent feature in modern architecture and housing projects. Laser-cut metal panels are architectural elements crafted using CNC laser cutting technology.
The emergence of laser cut panels allows a precise and intricate designs which makes these panels highly sought after not only for their aesthetic appeal and functionality in modern design but also cost effectiveness thanks to automated fabrication.
2. Metals Used in Laser-Cut Panels
Carbon Steel (Mild Steel): Carbon Steel is well known for its strength and versatility and it is a primary choice for majority of the laser-cut panels. It’s highly durable but requires proper post fabrication treatment / coating to prevent rust. For external usage, hot dip galvanization and powder coating are the ideal coating options.
Aluminium: Aluminium is resistant to corrosion and it is very lightweight. It is ideal for outdoor applications. It’s also malleable, allowing for more intricate designs. With powder coating, aluminium panels can be offered in different finishes.
Stainless Steel: Combining strength with corrosion resistance, stainless steel is a premium choice for laser-cut panels. It can withstand harsh weather conditions which makes them ideal for external usage, however they are the least cost effective solution compared to the other metals.
Brass and Copper: These metals offer a distinct aesthetic with their unique colour tones. While softer than steel, they still provide reasonable durability. Over time, they develop a patina that can add to the aesthetic value.
Corten Steel: Corten steel panels provide outside an impactful and inviting appearance due to the naturally occurring orange-brown patina on the metal’s surface. This patina is a result of the formation of a natural rust layer. Corten steel is also known as weathering steel because environmental conditions have a beneficial influence on these panels. Unlike carbon steel panels, Corten Steel metal panels doesn’t require any coating
3. Mechanical Strength and Durability
The mechanical strength of metal panels depends largely on the type of metal used. Carbon steel, Corten steel and stainless steel are the strongest options, capable of withstanding significant physical impact and heavy loads. Aluminium has smaller metallurgical resilience but it still provides sufficient durability for majority of the architectural applications. Brass and copper are softer, making them less ideal for high-impact areas but excellent for decorative purposes.
4. Corrosion Protection Systems
Corrosion resistance is a critical factor in the lifespan of metal panels:
Hot Dip Galvanization: Steel panels are often galvanized, a process involving coating the steel with a layer of zinc to prevent rust. Although it offers the highest protection, the colour limitation makes it less desirable compared to the other finishes. Hot dip galvanization can only be applied to carbon steel panels.
Powder Coating: This method involves applying a protective and decorative finish in a controlled environment, which increases corrosion resistance and offers a broad range of colour finishes. It can be applied for both aluminium and carbon steel (mild steel) panels.
Anodizing: Used primarily for aluminium, this electrochemical process increases corrosion resistance and allows for colorization of the metal. Compared to powder coating, anodizing offers higher lifespan. But it is less cost effective and application is rather complicated.
5. Applications in Modern Architecture
Laser-cut metal panels are frequently used as exterior cladding (facades) for buildings. They provide a protective layer against environmental elements while adding a contemporary, visually striking appearance to the structure. This ability of creating custom patterns provides architects a broad spectrum of unique façade designs that can serve specific purposes, like controlling light and shadow effects.
- Sun screening and Shading Devices
One of the practical uses of laser-cut metal panels in architecture is as sunscreens or shading devices. These panels can be used to block or filter sunlight, reducing heat gain within buildings and improving energy efficiency. The patterns can be optimized to allow natural light. They can assist minimizing glare, making them ideal for office buildings, schools, and residential properties.
- Privacy Screens and Partitions
Privacy is a concern in urban settings and laser-cut panels serve as an elegant solution. Used as screens or partitions, they provide privacy while still allowing light and air to pass through. This application is popular not only in residential houses but also commercial buildings such as hotels, office buildings and other venues.
Laser-cut decorative metal panels can be designed to improve indoor acoustic performance. They help in absorbing or diffusing sound by incorporating specific patterns. This will make them ideal for concert halls, theatres, and conference rooms.
- Decorative Interior Elements
Apart from functionality, laser-cut metal panels are widely used for their decorative appeal. They can be used as feature walls, ceiling panels, or decorative backdrops in lobbies, waiting areas, or dining spaces. Elegant designs can complement various interior styles, from modern minimalism to more elaborate themes.
In landscape design, laser-cut panels are used to create aesthetic boundary walls, garden screens, or as decorative elements in parks and outdoor public spaces. They can blend in to the natural surrounding or stand out as a focal point in the landscape.
Customizable nature of laser-cut metal panels makes them attractive for creating unique and durable signage for buildings, corporate campuses, and public spaces. They can be used for way finding elements, logos, and other branding purposes.
Novelty Structures fabricates decorative Laser-cut metal panels for different applications.