A private Chinese firm with less than 20 years' history has secured the lion's share of the emerging market of new plastic roofing materials in the world's fastest-developing country.
Headquartered in Laizhou, China, FangXing Building Materials (Shandong) Co. Ltd. thermoforms decorative roofing sheet using GE Plastics' Geloy resin coextruded with PVC.
The sheets are fabricated into colorful tiles with better features than traditional clay and cement tiles, steel roofing sheet and asphalt shingles, GE Plastics claims.
Better performance and lower cost have attracted not only commercial builders but also government project planners, GE Plastics said.
``The Shanghai and Beijing municipal governments have both chosen our Geloy/PVC resin tiles for their `Plain to Pitch' projects,'' spokesman Hui Li said in a Feb 22 telephone interview.
``Plain to Pitch'' projects are replacing older, flat roofs with pitched roofs that resist leaking. In recent years, the projects have been speeding up in Shanghai and Beijing, the nation's largest two cities, with populations of 15 million and 14 million, respectively. Shanghai alone renovated about 65 million square feet of roofs last year.
GE Plastics said the resin tile offers light weight, high impact resistance, good weatherability, easy installation and design flexibility. The tiles also are less noisy during a rainstorm than steel roofing and provide better waterproofing capability than shingles. The tiles' advantage over polymethyl methacrylate sheet is that PMMA can break during installation.
``The sheet consists of three layers. The core layer is made of Geloy resin, which provides great weatherability, and the outer layers are made of PVC,'' Li said. The firm buys PVC from a number of Chinese and global suppliers.
The coextruded resin tiles excel in heat and sound insulation, and are self-cleaning, ``like lotus leaves,'' Li added.
FangXing gained approval for the tile from China's Ministry of Construction in 2003.
Fueled by booming construction, the Chinese roofing industry is expected to grow more than 10 percent annually to nearly $4.98 billion in 2008, according to a GE Plastics news release. Concrete and clay tiles and asphalt shingles account for the majority of demand. But plastics is a growing segment of the business. Filling the niche, FangXing makes 32.3 million square feet of resin tiles every year.
``As a manufacturer of plastics construction materials, FangXing has successfully gone through three major phases since 1987: startup, accumulation and growth,'' Li said. With $3.73 million registered in fixed assets, the firm employs about 300 in its five plants and three subsidiaries in Xi'an, Jingmen and Shenyang, China.