Sapphire has been investing considerably in balcony testing resources including putting its Cassette® balcony system through a rigorous testing programme to ensure the highest levels of protection and peace of mind for its clients in the high-rise housebuilding sector. Specialist organisations including Oxford Brookes University and and one of the leading UKAS-accredited testing facilities in Europe are supporting Sapphire through this exhaustive process, providing expert advice on testing and certification, as well as ensuring materials, components and structures conform to the required standards and meet specifications. By working closely with this independent testing facility, which is also a Notified Body under the Construction Products Regulation, Sapphire believes it has probably created some of the most tested balconies in the industry today.
Initially a selection of balcony testing was carried out in Sapphire’s own test lab, this then progressed into in house and third party test with FEA (Finite Element Analysis) software for both structural and thermal assessment. Following this, an extensive range of industry-recognised tests has been conducted on individual components and system combinations to assess their technical performance, including safety, strength and durability, under extreme operating conditions. Testing has ranged from comparing the slip resistance of different deck finishes to assessing the safety of glass balustrade systems through designated loadings and determining the wind resistance of complete balcony units.
Now nearing completion, Sapphire’s comprehensive testing programme has involved a wide range of physical product testing methods and computer-based modelling. These include stud pull-out tests to assess which style/radii of bend and embedment is suitable for different concrete scenarios, and hygrothermal testing of materials to the equivalent of 25 years. Load testing of cantilever arms cast in various concrete strengths has also been carried out, which will assist balcony size design when there may be limiting factors with spacing for arms and depth, for example. Additionally, Sapphire’s offsite manufactured Cassettes®, an integral element of the company’s pioneering Glide-On Cassette® balcony system, have been subjected to fatigue, destructive and natural frequency testing. The latter test aimed at understanding the best approach to addressing the industry-wide issue with the apparent ‘bounciness’ of some balconies, even those which meet the relevant Building Regulations and BS EN standards. Sapphire’s tests explored how natural frequencies, in a variety of methods, might be used to add a dampening effect, relative to balcony configurations.
As a market-leading manufacturer of residential balconies for prestigious multi-occupancy developments, Sapphire is committed to understanding the often complex and constantly changing construction-related regulations and guidelines. Testing products and systems to ensure they meet, and even exceed, the most stringent standards is part of this commitment, as Nick Haughton, Sapphire’s Marketing Manager, explains: “Our continuous investment in product development, and testing, together with the support and underwriting of experts in this field, is keeping Sapphire at the forefront of residential balcony design and development. It also assists our ability to offer clients’ peace of mind, that not only are our products are at the forefront of innovation but they have been analysed, tested and underwritten by renown industry specialists, to above and beyond what we are obliged to do with balcony testing.”