Leading heat treatment specialist Bodycote provides solutions for the world’s first hydroformed architectural stainless-steel façade screen

German fabricator Edelstahl-Mechanik, supported by Bodycote, a global thermal processing services company, manufactured the world’s first hydroformed tensile architectural façade. Designed by Behnisch Architekten, the newly constructed Science and Engineering Complex at the Harvard University campus in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, is a fine example of balancing sustainability and aesthetic goals.

A total of 12,800 steel panels in 14 different profiles were precisely fabricated and sculpted using hydroforming by fabricator Edelstahl-Mechanik. Commonly used within the automotive and aerospace industries, hydroforming uses water pressure to shape thin metal plates against a mould, creating custom pieces. The stainless steel panels were then annealed by Bodycote, a heat treatment process that alters the microstructure of a material to change its mechanical or electrical properties.

In keeping with the university’s dedication to sustainability, exterior stainless-steel façade panels were designed to minimise solar heat gain in warm weather months, capture thermal energy in cold weather months, and provide natural light to the interior spaces. Stainless steel can be used in all aspects of architecture, building, and construction and is widely used due to its attractive appearance, corrosion resistance, strength, ease of maintenance, low life cycle costs, and lightweight properties.

Bodycote Group Chief Executive, Stephen Harris, commented, “We are very pleased to have contributed to this project where sustainability has been at the forefront in all design aspects. The project demonstrates the value of how our thermal processing solutions can be applied to not only aerospace or automotive industries, but for architectural applications providing durable and sustainable solutions.”

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