Bencore started producing honeycomb composite panels in Carrara, Italy 20 years ago for industrial applications like truck beds, yacht building and light stone. They set out to create a substrate for stone and marble that could maintain the same aesthetic but in a much thinner and lighter format. With Starlight, their signature composite panel, Bencore created a material that combines lightness, stiffness and transparency. The translucent design and stunning lighting effects of this innovative material quickly attracted architects and designers. This inspired Bencore to produce several collections with different honeycomb cores made of plastic, cardboard or aluminium.
HOW IT'S MADE
The structure and strength of Bencore materials come from the inner honeycomb cores. These inner layers are made by stretching transparent plastic sheets between metal plates to create different structures and patterns to form linked circular, bubbled or starry cellular cores. With Hexaben thin strips of aluminium are laminated together in sections and then stretched into a super strong and lightweight hexagonal core.
The honeycomb cores are sandwiched between translucent sheets made of acrylic (PMMA), polyester (PETG) or polycarbonate (PC). To bond the layers, adhesive is applied only to the edge of the cell walls leaving the cells clear, so they can diffuse and direct light. This reduces glare, allows for privacy and lets in more natural daylight.
Bencore's raw materials are sourced entirely from within the EU and the composite panels for architecture are all manufactured in Tuscany, Italy.
Bencore is used by architects and designers in commercial restaurant, retail and hospitality interiors as well as offices and public spaces. Translucent materials let natural light reach inner parts of a building without sacrificing privacy, reducing energy consumption for lighting systems, and improving well-being. Bencore can save on raw materials and help optimise energy performance. Because of its excellent light transmission, Bencore is often backlit to create stunning lighting effects.
The interior design panels are great for vertical or horizontal applications like table tops, raised floors, partition walls, dividers, suspended ceilings, doors, retail displays, furniture and shelves. Plus, the original range of industrial materials are still produced and used as a substrate for marble, stone and cast designer surfaces.
Bencore's signature material, Starlight, is a lightweight, strong and transparent collection of honeycomb composites with a unique tessellating star pattern. Starlight comes with different strength and fire resistance options depending on the core material and panel thickness. Starlight Floor is the strongest of the bunch and has an anti-slip finish on one side, which is great for flooring, stage and set design, stair treads or even as a platform for cars in showrooms.
Similar to Starlight, Lightben is even lighter and with cylindrical shaped cells. The tubes in the core of Lightben can be clear or coloured and come in a range of cell sizes, like with Lightben Kaos 3D. Lightben Kaos 3D can use clear, white or black cores which undulate light as your point of view moves across the panel. Lighben acoustic pairs symmetrical tubes with pinhole perforations that help absorb sound and is perfect for desk dividers or suspended ceiling panels. And, Bencore's Lightben CC uses semi-transparent coloured cores for a subtle colourful glow.
The lightest range of panels from Bencore, Hexaben uses a hexaganol honeycomb core made of a premium aluminium foil that is cut into strips, layered and then stretched to two different sized cells. Beyond its ultra-light weight, the aluminium cores reflect light within the cells, creating a soft glow from within. Hexaben Plus pairs these cores with polycarbonate skins which offer excellent fire resistance.
ECOBEN WAVE COLLECTION
Now available 100% recycled and recyclable, Ecoben Wave uses a layer of corrugated cardboard of varying thicknesses bonded between two translucent acrylic sheets. This combination lends a warmer, more rustic and natural feel to interiors. This range of eco-friendly panels from Bencore offers the most privacy of any collection and is perfect for sustainable designs because of its natural recycled content.
Bencore's latest innovation was created for shopfitting, allowing designers to play with light where natural lighting isn't available or backlighting undesirable. Using one side transparent acrylic and the other side with a mirror-backed acrylic layer, these panels reflect light back through the core of the panel and out into a space. The resulting reflection changes according to the viewing angle and shade of mirror. Bnecore Lightben Kaos 3D, Kaos 3D Black, Kaos 3D White, Hexaben Small and Hexaben Large are all available with silver, gold, grey or bronze mirror.
To make installation even easier, Bencore have created a range of modular systems for doors, partition walls, dividers and frames. Smart Office is a collection of systems by Bencore for moving or permanent partition walling in offices. The aluminium profiles can be powder-coated or painted, and in most cases can fit to existing walls or be installed as a floor-to-ceiling option up to 3 metres high.
Upset stand alone partitions act as a stable moveable room screen with stainless steel clamping feet.
Stretch suspends Bencore panels from thin cables, which makes them incredibly sturdy even though they look to be floating in space.
Wallite is a system for partition walls that allows the panels to be easily installed within a thin U-shaped aluminium profile and can be lit from the edge.
Bencore also offers different solutions for sliding and swing doors including Fos, Meli, Koros, Roi and Glistro.
Bencore comes in 23 colours with a satin or glossy finish. The design composites are made to order in sheets sized 3015 x 1000mm. The thickness of the material depends on a combination of the thickness of the core (how far it has been extruded) and the thickness of the outer skins. The overall thickness varies by collection from 9mm to 40mm. The brightest colours are all faced with acrylic sheets like Perspex, and most of the panels are 21mm thick. For better fire resistance, the cores use polycarbonate (PC) or polyester (PETG) faces which results in a thinner panel, typically 19mm thick.
Bencore produce many custom fabrications in-house like edging, joins, custom cuts, different thicknesses, bespoke colours and thermoforming. The material can also be milled, routed, joined and edged by a skilled joiner, fabricator or shopfitter.
Surface Matter works with Bencore to support and supply the innovative material throughout the UK. We can talk through projects, offer technical advice, give samples and distribute the material. To get a better feel for the material, a range of small and large format samples as well as panels in-use are available to see in our materials studio.