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Vol. LIX, No. 8
April 20, 2007

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Installation of Shatter-Resistant Window Film Nears Completion

On the front page...

As part of an ongoing safety effort, the Office of Research Facilities is almost finished installing shatter-resistant window film inside buildings at the perimeter of NIH's Bethesda campus.

"When it's all done, we are looking at a total of 160,000 square feet of film," reckons ORF Project Officer Johnny Madlangbayan.


  ORF Facilities Operations Specialist Rey Walker shows how blast-resistant film heightens reflectivity.  
  ORF Facilities Operations Specialist Rey Walker shows how blast-resistant film heightens reflectivity.  
"When it's all done, we are looking at a total of 160,000 square feet of film," reckons ORF Project Officer Johnny Madlangbayan. The rationale is part of our working world post 9/11: "There was a study conducted a couple of years ago," explains Madlangbayan, "and they determined an area called a blast zone-and [identified] the perimeter buildings in that zone. Although we do have new vehicle inspection facilities, the theory is that, in some kind of explosion outside the ings] would break on impact-would become missiles and hurt occupants."

The film, a 3M product called SCLARL400, acts as a tensile skin; for conditions such as a hurricane or bomb blast, it is designed to elongate 140 percent, resist tearing and adhere to glass shards so that they fall harmlessly. "Blast-resistant film will keep glass in one piece," says Madlangbayan. "Glass will be broken, but kept together and drop onto the floor." The film is not designed to stop bullets, bombs or burglars; it's to increase shatter-resistance.

ORF has already completed installation in Bldgs. 6A & B, 14 A & E, 21, 37, 38 & 38A, 40, 41, 45, 51, 62, 64 and 65.

"Bldg. 31 is the last one on our list," says Madlangbayan. "We just did the B wing's B2 level and we will do the first floor next week [Apr. 2-6].

" Point man for the Bldg. 31 complex is Rey Walker, ORF facilities operations specialist. Bldg. 31 has three wings-A, B and C. There are no plans to do A wing, Walker says, because it's considered outside the blast zone. "B wing will be done first, then C," he reports. He expects installation crews will work their way up to the 5th floor of the B wing by the last week of April or the first week of May, given that "it takes 2 to 3 days per floor." There is nothing harmful about the film, he says. It imparts a minor tint, "like a car windshield," and will be somewhat reflective from the outside. "If you look at Bldg. 33, you can see what it will look like," or visit the B2 level of Bldg. 31 and check out the windows by the exit.

Members of the 2005-2006 class meet NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni (c). Shown are (from l) Alison Rager; Bryan Traughber; Ezinma Achebe; Mehrdad Alemozaffar; CRTP director Dr. Frederick Ognibene; Tony Wang; Obinna Emechebe-Kennedy; Lan Chang; Clint Allen; Frank Hwang; Richard Robison and Veronique Nussenblatt.
The blast-resistant film has a tensile strength of 30,000 pounds per square inch but still lets in plenty of light.

Walker advises folks in the scheduled installation areas to clear their window ledges of any personal items. In addition, "if your desk is close to the windows, or if it is blocking windows, [the installation crews] are not going to move furniture," he says. "They will bring in a ladder." In case crews need to stand on a desk to access the windows, he asks staff to be flexible. The workers are just doing their job, "which is really for the safety of employees. This installation can save lives."

Aside from clearing the work area, standard procedure also includes this preliminary step: installation crews will clean the inner aspect of the windows before applying film. Any bubbles under the film surface should go away within a few days, Walker notes. Crews will not clean the window exteriors.

Since the dimensions of windows in Bldg. 31B vary (roughly, from 2 feet by 3 feet to 4 feet by 8 feet), the film, which comes in 100-foot rolls, will be cut to fit. Seams will be visible, but not obtrusive.

The film itself is an acrylate adhesive of micro-layered polyester only 0.0040 inches thick. When installed on -inch clear glass, it offers visible light transmission of 86 percent; visible reflection of 11 percent; and ultraviolet transmission of less than 2 percent. This means it's an optically clear film that lets in plenty of light but also reduces harmful rays, glare and heat. It is tough stuff, with a tensile strength of 30,000 pounds per square inch. Other attributes: the film is weatherable and abrasion-resistant. It is also a Class-A interior finish for both flame spread index and smoke development. NIH Record Icon

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