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Q&A: Aluminum Composite Material (ACM)

ACM Explained

ACM (aluminum composite material) is a three-layer panel material with a polyethylene core and a thin layer of pre-finished aluminum bonded to each side. ACM panels are perfect for indoor and outdoor applications that need good dimensional stability, strength, durability, and light weight requirements.

Piedmont Plastics offers a variety of sizes, thicknesses, finishes, and colors for ACM, including fire-grade options. In addition, Piedmont Plastics can have your ACM order cut to size and machined into custom-fabricated parts to meet your needs.

Advantages of ACM

The main benefit of ACM is its adaptability. ACM panels can be cut, constructed, mounted, and installed using standard equipment. In addition to its potential for creating attractive designs and toughness, ACM maintains its flatness over time and does not end up oil canning or rippling.

ACM panels are also about half as heavy as conventional aluminum and are sometimes more economical than similarly gauged aluminum sheet. Additionally, ACM has excellent weatherability, anti-corrosion skin, UV resistance, and scratch resistance. It cleans easily without sacrificing the material’s sleek and sparkling appearance.

The advantages of employing ACM for signs and display applications are numerous. For instance, ACM sheets can be digitally printed, accommodate PSA print medium, and be receptive to conventional screenprinting inks. ACM can also be used to build type II electrical enclosures and complies with UL standards according to UL879 as a component for sign accessories.

Common Uses For ACM

ACM is an ideal material for various end-user products due to its appealing properties and ease of fabrication without sacrificing durability. It can be used in almost any application where aluminum many also be used, but plastic's lightness and affordability may be desirable.

Among the most common uses include:

  • Interior and exterior signage
  • Exhibits and displays
  • Convention kiosks
  • POP displays
  • Channel letters
  • Wall linings
  • Insulation
  • Architectural cladding
  • Decor

Aluminum composite material comes in various colors, finishes, and thicknesses to suit the needs of nearly any project. There are also a variety of grades, from lightweight to heavy-duty, depending on a project’s size and durability requirements.

What Are the Fire Resistance Properties of ACM?

Not all ACM panels are fire-resistant. However, two varieties are designed to fall within the fire protection ratings that would classify them as fire-resistant.

  • B1 ACM Fire Protection Rating – This is the most common fireproof panel grade, and this class of aluminum composite panel is highly resistant to flame. When exposed to flame, it does not spread quickly and immediately extinguishes when the source of the flame is eliminated.
  • A2 ACM Fire Protection Rating – The class of aluminum composite panels has superior non-combustible characteristics. Builders and contractors recommend using this type of ACM for fireproof construction. Its high fire protection rating makes it the best choice available on the market.

How Does ACM Perform in Severe Weather Conditions?

Despite ACM’s light weight, it is still highly regarded for its sturdiness and long-lasting performance. Aluminum composite material is highly resistant to all sorts of weather, including high outdoor temperatures and prolonged exposure to the sun, wind, rain, and snow. In some cases, such as hurricanes, there is a risk of denting from flying debris, and ACM withstands more punishment than many other materials.

Is ACM Easy to Clean?

Conventional advice says that all you need to clean aluminum composite material panels is a soft, damp cloth. This is reliable advice. Ideally, the water should be about room temperature, and a mild detergent may be used if necissary. 

It’s not recommended to clean debris or caked-on dirt using a hard, sharp tool, as this could result in scratching. For any build-up that may have accumulated, repeat applications of water and mild detergent or soap on a soft cloth or sponge until the dirt has been removed. Avoid using anything with a rough texture.

After cleaning, rinse thoroughly, then dry. The surface should retain its sharp appearance.

Piedmont Sign Grade AluPOLY®

In order to better serve the needs of our customers, we developed the AluPOLY material, a member of the Piedmont Sign Grade product line. AluPOLY is a standout ACM sheet specifically designed for signage, though it can be used for many more applicaitons. AluPOLY is available in multiple grades, including Economy, Standard, Premium, HS, Digital, and Digital Plus. Each offers a smooth surface that can be coated or painted to any color or pattern, and its protective film ensures superior adhesion for most inks, paints, and pressure sensitive media. 

Aluminum Composite Material At Piedmont Plastics

Our team of skilled plastics specialists at Piedmont Plastics is prepared to offer you the applications-specific solutions you require. Additionally, our commitment to the signs business is demonstrated by the growth of our team of sign and graphics market experts, who are equally equipped to assist clients that require ACM for sign and graphic applications.

ACM panels are available from Piedmont Plastics in a range of thicknesses, hues, and dimensions at any of our 50+ North American locations. To learn more, contact us today.