Looking for eco-responsible materials for signs, panels and other applications may not be the first thing that comes into our heads, but more and more, the health of the planet and safety of the public and workers alike are on our minds. Clients want to know more about the materials and processes that go into fabricating elements that will be incorporated into indoor and outdoor environments.
On the other side of the equation, fabricators and manufacturers are increasingly concerned with using or developing materials and processes that are safer for their employees and result in a product that can be confidently used by eco-conscious clients.
Since 2007, these issues have led us here at ALTO™ Aluminum to develop a product that meets the needs of our clients but is also as green as possible.
The core of our product is aluminum, an infinitely recyclable material. This means that no matter how many times it is used, melted down and reformed, it retains all of its great properties. Also, because aluminum is a lightweight metal, it is easy to ship, handle and move as the need arises, with less stress on the environment.
Signs and panels that are no longer relevant can be turned into something entirely new. Something like a sign or interpretive panel is expected to last a long time, but at the end of its life there’s peace of mind knowing that it can be recycled into something new- it could be a new sign, or a totally new product.
Public art is another field that can benefit from this, as some pieces are part of shorter festivals or cultural programs and will eventually be taken down. As with anything in a public place, site needs and uses change over time. Knowing that aluminum can be recycled and reused instead of discarded makes an investment in a quality material make sense, even for projects with shorter life spans.
Less replacing, less waste
Another benefit of aluminum, especially the grade of aluminum used for ALTO™ products, is that it is incredibly long lasting. For many applications, long-term durability is essential to avoid replacing signs and panels that end up faded, damaged or rusted.
Aluminum is an ideal metal for outdoor conditions, as it doesn’t rust or corrode, and is incredibly resistant to humidity, heat and cold weather conditions. They don’t degrade like other traditional signage materials, like wood, HPL and other metals. Aluminum is one material you can be confident using in almost any environment, and not worrying about temperature extremes or weather conditions affecting the signs or panels for years.
Part of what makes ALTO™ so durable is the powder-coating process. Powder-coating is a hugely popular dry-finishing process that covers a metal substrate in a polymer resin powder with an electrostatic spray. It is extremely durable and fortunately, it is a very clean process that is safe not only for the environment, but the people who us and work with the products.
Powder-coatings do not contain any solvents and emit very little, if any VOC’s. Our powder-coating process is also TGIC free and doesn’t contain heavy metals like lead or cadmium, as is the case with some exterior paints.
Due to our process, we don’t need to apply any finishes, varnishes or coatings (like resins, UV coatings or any protective varnishes), that contain harmful chemicals that can affect people with health concerns or wash off the panels and contaminate the surrounding environment. Powder-coated products are recommended for use indoors and out, even in spaces with strict air quality standards like schools, hospitals and laboratories.
A further eco-friendly benefit of powder-coating is the fact that overspray can be collected and reused, so there is far less waste and exhaust during the process.
No matter where it is installed, ALTO™ can be easily cleaned and maintained without using heavy-duty detergents or toxic cleaning products. It’s as easy as using soap and water, or for tougher stains, a mild household cleaning product is enough. Grease, oil and glue stains can be removed with rubbing alcohol.
Watch this short video to see how easy it is to clean ALTO™
As can be expected, panels in public places are sometimes the target of graffiti. We recommend an organic graffiti and adhesive remover to remove marks and paint, and because of the nature of the powder-coated aluminum, graffiti is easily removed.
Sustainability is Key
By making as many of the components and processes go into making ALTO™ Aluminum eco-responsible as possible, we are working to contribute to a circular economy. We want to reduce waste by precision cutting of our metal substrates, reduce pollution by using recoverable powder-coats, and keep products and materials in use for a sustainable future.