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It’s far and away from the aluminum façade craze of the 1950s in America, portrayed by the comedy film “Tin Men” with Danny de Vito playing a salesman using every trick in the book. For today’s far more demanding and knowledgeable customers, Germany’s Vinylit has successfully devised vinyTherm: a rear-ventilated façade combining PVC and natural stone.

“The most conspicuous thing about vinyTherm is its inconspicuousness, says its developer, Mr Buchfeldt.

Suspense builds for the most innovative PVC applications at SolVin Awards 2013

More than 70 competitors from all over Europe have thrown their hats into the ring for the fifth edition of the SolVin Award, which goes to large and small pioneering firms for innovation, sustainability and creativity in PVC technology.

It can ruin your whole day… or longer if your plumber’s busy. A blocked sink can paralyse a home, unless of course you’re skilled at DIY.

You roll up your sleeves, take your toolbox and start to work, dismantling the siphon, flushing out whatever’s blocking the pipes. Then you try to reassemble it all, hoping you will not end up with spare parts in your hand. Belgium company, LML Pipes, decided there’s got to be a better way to unblock a sink.

“We started with a simple thought: How can we improve the functionality of a siphon?” says Jos Mertens, LML’s chief design engineer.

How do you keep out the roar of a stadium crowd, preserve the productive silence of an office or the pin-drop tranquility of a recording studio and still give architects maximum flexibility? The answer is Germany's Mehler Texnologies’ Sound Absorption project using PVC-coated textiles to keep the noise under control.

Eco-designer Mario Scheichenbauer worked for years out of an atelier in Milan’s historic center to produce trendy furniture for cityslickers and rural dwellers alike. Melding the rustic with the functional and ecological is also how he created his Brikplast PVC partitions.

Typical partitions can be heavy, costly and lacking in style. Mr. Scheichenbauer was inspired in part by his experience designing a hilltop retreat years ago, collaborating with fellow Italian designer Aurelio Zanotta.

The use of cold runners was until the 90s de rigueur process for PVC injection moulding, but they are wasteful due to the left-over material accumulated in the injection gate. With the ever-rising costs of energy and resources, a lightbulb went off in the head of Dietzel-Univolt’s development engineer, Andreas Neulinger.

"Why not mould PVC with the same hot channel technology already used for other plastics?", he thought. Easier said than done! 

For the vision-challenged, navigating busy city streets can be daunting. Using one’s touch to ‘feel’ the way can be a valuable tool. This idea is what inspired Italian companies Antonplast and B&B Compounds to team up and create the Vector System - a tactile way to navigate with one’s feet.

It’s a very simple system,” explains Massimo Battista, B&B Compounds Production Manager. “The whole process begins with the injection of flexible PVC slabs which are put together just like a puzzle to form the footway.”

He’s designed flashy album covers for artists ranging from Scorpions to Heather Nova and Patricia Kaas. One day, Thomas Sassenbach got fed up seeing the endless succession of ugly garage doors while driving around his former hometown Cologne and decided to do something about it: turn them into large size 3D-looking billboards made using tough PVC tarpaulins!

They were always mousy gray, even outside well-kept homes that seemed to be crying out for help,” says Sassenbach. “So why not add a bit of rock’n’roll?

Capturing sunlight to energise your home and office is a sensible and environmentally friendly endeavor. But what if there is no room for solar panels? What if they just don’t fit the design? Belgium’s Sioen pursued the concept of “textile architecture” to develop SioSolar.

By incorporating photovoltaic cells into high-tech textiles, SioSolar PVC-coated fabrics can turn tents, trailers and other structures into small-scale power plants.

Did you know that power lines kill about 0.5% of the bird population in France every year and that a PVC helix on the cables can help to protect them?

Thanks to a new PVC compound developed by Solvay Benvic Iberica, it’s possible to produce a helical profile that can be attached easily to mid-tension lines. The bright colors of the helix work as visual alarms for the birds which will likely avoid the cables and safely continue their way.
Even a relatively limited number of helixes can be efficient if they are placed on the main migration routes.