U. S. Patent No. 1,470,728 for modern dropped ceilings was applied for by E. E. Hall on May 28, 1919 and granted on October 16, 1923. Initially modern dropped ceilings were built using interlocking tiles and the only way to provide access for repair or inspection of the area above the tiles was by starting at the edge of the ceiling, or at a designated "key tile", and then removing contiguous tiles one at a time until the desired place of access was reached. Once the repair or inspection was completed, the tiles had to be reinstalled. This process could be very time-consuming and expensive. On September 8, 1958 Donald A. Brown of Westlake, Ohio filed for a patent for Accessible Suspended Ceiling Construction. This invention provided suspended ceiling construction in which access may readily be obtained at any desired location. Patent Number US 2,984,946 A was granted on May 23, 1961.
To address fire safety, ceiling tiles made from mineral fibres, plastic, tin, composite, or fire-rated wood panels can be used within the construction to meet acceptable standards/ratings. Some tiles, in specific situations, can provide the needed additional resistance to meet the "time rating" required for various fire code, city ordinance, commercial, or other similar building construction regulations. Fire ratings for ceiling panels vary based on the materials used, the preparation of each panel, and the safety testing and third party evaluation done to determine where and how they can be safely installed. In the UK it can be required for the tiles from certain manufacturers to be clipped into the grid with special ceiling clips in order to provide a fire rating; there are special tiles designed for the underside of mezzanine floors however that can give a fire rating without being clipped.
When installing a stretch ceiling, semi-concealed plastic/aluminum track, the preferred choice for most architects and designers, is cut to size and fixed to the perimeter of the ceiling area. The membrane is stretched and the harpoon or catch edge is clipped into the track. Stretching is aided by heating up the membrane or sheet prior to fitting.
Many manufacturers of modern dropped ceilings include sustainability as an objective. Sustainable features may include: Energy efficiency, including daylight efficacy and thermal insulating qualities. This uses the ceiling plane to reflect daylight as well as electrical illumination to maximize lumen efficacy, which also improves the comfort and usability of interior spaces. A common measure of the light reflectance of a ceiling material is ASTM E 1477 for Light Reflectance (LR-1). A level of about 75% is considered good, although higher levels are possible. Reduced resources needed for construction of the tiles. Recyclable/reused/renewable materials.
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