Why is managing acoustic comfort so important?
It’s fair to say that the world of work is at a seminal moment thanks to COVID-19. Never before have employers and employees been asked to adapt so quickly on a global scale. The old arguments of open-plan office versus closed office spaces now seem completely out of touch as we race to make offices COVID-secure.
Hygiene, safety and wellbeing are now crucial considerations. Air quality, ventilation, natural light, adequate space, biophilic design and acoustics now need more careful consideration.
We have a particular interest in acoustics and it’s encouraging to see the developments in both materials and products that are available to help architects, interior designers and specifiers deliver acoustic comfort to a wide range of spaces.
Good acoustics are essential for productivity, creativity and wellbeing. The effect of a poor acoustic environment in the workplace has been well researched and documented, and it’s accepted that excessive noise has a negative impact on people’s ability to retain vital information reducing concentration and effecting wellbeing - increasing stress and fatigue.
As human beings we have a sensitivity to sound that is in-built and comes from the days when we had to be alert to any signalling the risk of attack. With this in mind it’s easy to see how fluctuating noise levels within office environments can trigger our fight or flight response, raising heart rate and releasing stress hormones.
Many of today’s offices have highly reflective surfaces such as glass, marble, concrete and even wood – all of which have little absorption properties resulting in high levels of reverberation, or echo. Couple this with the need to reduce the negative impact of workplaces on the environment and sustainability now also becomes a key consideration when designing acoustic solutions.
This is where Polyethylene Terephalate (PET) comes into its own, yes, it’s a plastic BUT not all plastics are created equal.
What is PET Felt?
PET felt is made from recycled plastic bottles that are collected, compressed, shredded, and melted down to create granulate, or plastic flakes. The flakes are soft fibres which are pressed together in layers to make a sturdy sheet of PET.
What are the advantages of using PET felt for acoustic products?
- Made from post-consumer waste products (plastic bottles)
- Uses a very low energy manufacturing process
- Has a favourable sustainability profile compared to other materials such as glass and aluminium
- Is a chemically inert substance with no VOCs or formaldehyde binders
- Will not degrade, crumble or rot
- Durable and easy to clean
- Flexible - can be bent, sculpted, and shaped
- Made from compressing fibres together delivering great sound absorption properties
- Fully recyclable at end of life
- PET is the most recycled plastic worldwide
What’s the difference between PET Felt and FOAM?
PET felt is not to be confused with FOAM, which is a very different material. We have noticed that foam and PET felt are often referred to and used in the same way when talking about acoustics and it’s important to understand the difference between these two products.
Unlike PET felt, acoustic foam is a chemically based product and will therefore degrade over time and begin to flake which is not good for ventilation or acoustics. Acoustic foam is made from polyurethane foam and melamine foam BUT unless the acoustic foam is white or concrete grey, it is only polyurethane which is not Class A rated fire retardant and so should not be used near high heat sources.
The structure of foam is also very different from PET felt. Foam has an open cellular structure which means it does not have the same acoustic properties as PET felt, which a closed-structure made by compressing polyester fibres together to form sturdy sheets of felt.
We strive to make products that have a minimal impact on our planet, that are sustainable, don’t end up in landfill and that combine first-class acoustic properties together with design aesthetics. Products that look good and do good.
Make the switch to PET felt products to manage acoustics and help the environment. Take a look at the full range of our products and get in touch for a sample pack.