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Plastics for Data Center Aisle Containment

person standing at the end of a data center aisle

Data center aisle containment includes physical barriers that separate cold supply air from the hot exhaust air that is often produced by high-powered servers and other IT equipment. High-performance aisle containment allows data centers to maintain a uniform, stable supply environment both for IT personnel and to improve performance for essential tech devices.

These data centers contain essential protection for important IT functions and data storage equipment. The companies that run these operations often focus mainly on the technology at these locations. But the aisle containment systems that protect these devices are also essential.

High-performance plastics offer superior protection to maintain these important devices and protect data centers and the businesses and organizations they serve. Read on for a guide about data center aisle containment, with a focus on the plastics that support these essential operations. 

Benefits of Plastics for Data Center Aisle Containment

Using specialized plastics for data center aisle containment can lead to reduced energy costs for data centers. Since these materials provide such a strong barrier, they can effectively control the flow of air to various parts of the facility. So they prevent unwanted heat transfer that would then force HVAC systems to work overtime to keep specific parts of the building cool. 

Plastics also offer tons of design flexibility. They are completely customizable, since plastic sheets can be cut to size, and thermoplastics can be shaped and bent using heat to fit a particular space perfectly. Plastic sheets can also be easily cut to size on-site with common hand tools, making installation quick and easy. This makes it ideal for existing facilities that need solutions that can be retrofitted to their current setups.

In these cases, you can avoid completely reconfiguring your tech and space to account for panels or barriers. In addition, plastics offer optical clarity, even while providing a strong barrier. This makes it easy for operators and employees to clearly see and maintain IT equipment. So they can see if something is out of place or damaged quickly. And this may even improve efficiency for those needing to inspect equipment periodically.

Then there’s the high level of protection that plastics can offer when it comes to data center aisle containment. Not only are many high-performance plastics impact-resistant, which can limit or prevent physical damage or manipulation, but they can also provide flame resistance and thermal insulation to protect equipment from heat or smoke damage. Overall, these features lead to reduced downtime for equipment, which means better efficiency and performance for all who use these important systems. 

Types of Plastic for Data Center Aisle Containment

There are several types of high-performing plastics that can be used in data center aisle containment, including multiwall polycarbonate, monolithic polycarbonate, LEXAN 9600 FR polycarbonate fire resistant, and clear PVC. Here’s an explanation of each one and some considerations to help you make the best choice for your data center needs. 

Multiwall polycarbonate offers the high impact strength that polycarbonate is known for. The double layer design of multiwall polycarbonate makes it an excellent choice for its insulative properties. It also offers visual obscurity to enhance privacy while still allowing for high light transmission. Other beneficial features include dimensional stability at high temperatures, low weight, and flame resistance. Multiwall Polycarbonate, such as LEXAN Thermoclear or Palram SUNLITE, also meet ASTME84 Class “A” for smoke in 8mm and 6mm. 

LEXAN™ 9600 FR polycarbonate fire resistant offers virtually unbreakable impact strength, fire resistance, high levels of optical clarity, low weight, and excellent formability.

Clear PVC offers lots of impact resistance and durability, though it isn’t quite as unbreakable as the polycarbonate options. However, it also provides high optical clarity and excellent flame and chemical resistance. 

What to Consider When Choosing Materials for Aisle Containment

There are several factors that may impact your choice for data center aisle containment systems. Before considering the visual and practical elements involved in material selection, it’s essential that data center products at least meet the most important industry standards for smoke and heat resistance. Specifically, look for items rated as ASTME84 Class “A” for smoke.

From there, look for options that suit the layout and visual aspects of your data center. For example, if you need enclosures that shield your equipment and offer privacy, a multiwall polycarbonate solution may be best. However, if you have team members that need visual access to equipment without opening barriers, a monolithic polycarbonate or clear PVC enclosure may be more practical. 

If you build cutting-edge data center enclosures, you need a partner that is able to provide high-performance material solutions to suit these essential safety and performance standards. No matter what your visual or performance requirements are, Polymershapes can provide access to the highest-performing data center aisle containment enclosure materials to suit your needs. Our distribution centers offer a wide array of high-grade plastic and composite options that meet ASTME84 Class “A” for smoke standards. We partner with the data center and IT industry’s most innovative and trusted manufacturers, and we can even customize solutions or connect clients with value-added services to meet specific requirements or retrofit solutions to existing facilities. Visit our website to find your local distribution center or reach out to our team today.