Zinc as a building material is still a fairly new and exciting concept in India. Yet, it is enjoying incredible growth says, Girish Dharachar, Managing Director, Umicore Building Products. VMZINC is the international brand name of the rolled titanium zinc products manufactured and marketed by the Umicore Group around the world. Zinc’s specific advantages cover a number of areas: aesthetics, longevity, performance and sustainability.
Zinc was known for its applications in residential small buildings because it is an expensive material. However, we have changed the perception of the market by introducing value added solutions. Typically, globally, we sell zinc only as a material in coil and sheet form. Specifically for India, in parallel, we started selling ready to install customized panels and also developed few products locally like the expanded mesh in zinc that gives you almost the same effect as perforation. For example if you want to cover ventilation and utility ducts or reduce heat load on the air conditioning system, then expanded mesh, instead of perforation, is a cheaper option. Zinc being a long lasting and a good material, becomes a techno-economically viable solution at a lower cost.
Another innovation we went in for is zinc composite panels, which is unlike the long-existing aluminum composite panels in the market. Zinc composite panels have zinc on the outer surface, giving it a natural finish and requiring no colour paint. It, thus, has the same look and feel, but because it is composite it is cheaper compared to single skin metal.
We then went on to re-focus on the public buildings, essentially government projects. With the new government spending large on infrastructure we too participated. Of course, not on the road and bridge projects, but on everything related to auditoriums, metros and airports, which also includes the recently completed War Memorial project in Amritsar, where the entire façade is done using zinc, almost 3,500sqm. It also includes cutouts of 10 soldiers on one side within the façade. You can see a soldier carrying a flag and another soldier carrying a gun. There are two such different façades and these are all laser cut. Every soldier is basically spread over some 40 panels. So, every panel has to be cut in such a manner that when you connect it to the next one it aligns properly. This was a very interesting project.