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since 1948

ETFE bubble roofs for innovative roof shapes

Buitink Technology does inspection, maintenance and renovation of many air cushion roofs in Holland and abroad. Cleaning of ETFE air cushion roofs is rarely required, however if needed we have the expertise to do the cleaning.

An ETFE air cushion roof is always connected to an air blowing system to control air pressure in the cushion. In a proper air system 2 blowers (one operational and one stand by) and an air dryer are available.

Our control systems are equipped with remote display. The control system can be read out on line through telephone connection or internet. All parameters like process control data, interrupts, energy consumption etcetera can be remotely displayed.


Points of Attention

We have a list of attention points based on our experiences with maintenance and renovation of third party installed ETFE air cushion roofs.

These experiences are collected in an in house production manual to build quality systems. Application of best available techniques prevent high maintenance cost in future.

ETFE cushions

Attention points for ETFE cushions for designing, making and installing the air cushions and system:

  • Stable ETFE cushions are obtained when the shape is determined only by cutting the right shapes. Resilience should not be taken into account.
  • A proper convex shape has to avoid extreme foil tensions. This tension can lead to future change in shape of the cushion.
  • In design, construction and building of EFTE cushions we follow the guide lines of the ''European Design Guide for Tensile Surface Structures''.
  • For engineering we apply NEN 6702 Air system
  • Air systems should comply with norms based on legal legislation and is build with industrial components.
  • We advise to use SS pipelines for air supply. This is have a compatible lifetime of cushion and piping to avoid failure and extensive maintenance in future.
  • In case of using synthetic piping we apply industrial quality pvc.
  • Connections from the header to the cushions have to be made from ETFE transparent tubing (to avoid aging and embrittlement)
  • A stand by spare blower should be installed and connected that automatically comes in operation when the main blower fails.
etfe-luchtkussendak-installatie01.jpg Project van Buitink Technology: Technical room JinSo Pavilion.
etfe-luchtkussendak-installatie02.jpg Project van Buitink Technology: The control unit for the air cushion roof of JinSo Pavilion. With the legally-required TCD.
etfe-luchtkussendak-installatie03.jpg Project van Buitink Technology: The control units for the air cushion roof of JinSo Pavilion. With the legally-required TCD.

In practice

Below a number of pictures with explanations, highlighting observations during maintenance on third party installed ETFE roofs. Pictures presented originate from various projects.

It is obvious that below pictures show inferior construction details that are avoided in ETFE air cushion systems delivered by Buitink Technology.


Complicated and chaotic design of the air blowing system and piping.


No industrial parts and cheap materials used for construction. Provisionary support of piping applied.


Non industrial system set-up, no integration of instruments in one single box.


Third party project delivered in 2008. No air blower system installed, pressure gauge not working.


Air dryer on the right side is not connected (air input bypassed the air dryer).


No industrial construction of the air blower system. Pressure measurement not working. Client ordered a pressure measurement connected to the Building Management System. This however was not installed at all.


Cheap PVC quality piping was installed; glue was used to connect piping.


Extensive leakages in the air transport header resulted in too low pressure for the roof. Buitink Technology installed a complete new air blowing system at the outside of the roof.


No industrial construction of the air blower system, cheap materials applied and a mal functioning pressure measurement.


Virtually all glued connections are disrupted, provisionary mounted with tape.


Use of proper quality flexible tubing is of utmost importance to prevent embrittlement and rupture. An extensive rupture in the feed line of the air cushion roof, shown on the picture, results in pressure loss.


Inspections show frequently weak seals in the ETFE foil as shown in the picture. Loose seals show up only after a while.


Removing locally the print before sealing is often neglected. However this method prevents mentioned seal problems at the expense of additional labor cost.


No industrial construction applied; pressure gauge connected with tape. Atmospheric side of the pressure gauge blocked by tape. Also the location of the pressure gauge is wrong. It should not be mounted near the air blower, but at the far end in a ETFE cushion.


Main header for air input to the cushions is connected with tape.


Glued pipe connections. Four years after commissioning virtually all connections failed (due to temperature expansion, dissolving of glue etc.). Wrong choice of material and construction.


No proper connection of flexible air tubes to the cushions.


No proper connection of flexible air tubes to the cushions.


Glued pipe connections. Four years after commissioning virtually all connections failed (due to temperature expansion, dissolving of glue etc.). Wrong choice of material and construction.


Cushions shown should be more spherical. Less spherical cushions are less stable; vertical tension is insufficient absorbed in stormy weather conditions.


Main header is made of PVC with glued connections. Ultra violet radiation and expansion due to temperature fluctuations generate a high risk of pipe rupture. It results in air leakage. No ETFE flexible tubing is used between header and cushions. No doubt after a while tubing applied in the picture shown will break down.


More information

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