Aluminium is being hailed as the ideal material for manufacturing the largest outdoor high-resolution LED screen supporting structure, following a series of projects completed by systems manufacturer Boldman.

Works have been concluded on the 13.9m x 7.8m Printworks outdoor screen in Manchester; and on the two identical 11.5m by 4.8m screens at Heathrow Terminal 2, both screens are to be used as high-profile advertising space.

The Printworks screen was manufactured using an Oblik spaceframe structure framework designed by Alan White Design, it was constructed from 156 individual fabricated aluminium sections and is the largest of its kind weighing 5.5 tonnes. Aluminium was chosen over steel because a lightweight support structure was needed to attach the entire assembly to the grade 2 listed building in Manchester.

The two identical outdoor screens at Heathrow T2 are the largest outdoor screens at any UK airport and are used for advertising to the 55,000 passengers that travel through the terminal each day. The screens have an operating temperature range of -20 °C to +50°C and are expected to have a lifespan of at least 100,000 hours.

The main challenge when constructing screens of this size is maintaining quality of resolution in picture: the slightest inconsistency in flatness will cause noticeable picture distortion; hence manufacture, assembly and installation all require pinpoint precision. The use of aluminium allows the screens to be ultra flat resulting in a very high-resolution picture.

Nigel Clarke CEO of Boldman explained, “It is vital that outdoor screens can withstand high winds and extreme changes of temperature and weight without an effect on structural integrity whilst maintaining image quality for advertisers. Aluminium is the perfect material for this as it is lightweight, strong and allows for extreme accuracy in manufacturing and installation. We were able to deliver the materials and assemble on site with no welding required.”

About the Heathrow Terminal 2 screens:
Size: 2 x 11.5m by 4.8m
Weight: 4.8 tonnes each
Location: Heathrow T2 facing the short stay car park adjacent to terminal entrances and adjacent to the link bridges between the car park and the drop off zone connecting the terminal building.

The screens are in operation 19 hours a day, 365 days a year and are owned by Heathrow retail who use them for attracting advertisements from brands to generate revenue for the Airport business as well as Heathrow’s own marketing use.

About the Printworks Screen:
Size: 13.9m x 7.8m x 0.6m deep.
Weight: Oblik framework weighs 5.5 tonnes. The total weight of the screen is 10 tonnes.
Location: The screen is fastened to existing steelworks within the Printworks building and the screen is located on the exterior of the Printworks grade 2 listed building facing Withy Grove.

The Oblik system was designed and developed to provide a modular lightweight load bearing structure. The system is based on an oblik beam manufactured from lightweight aluminium sections. The beam diagonals are out of plane creating a three dimensional framework when the trusses are bolted together side by side and includes suspension points that can be fitted where required.

The stiffness of the spaceframe means that even under the most extreme design conditions the structure will deflect less than 7mm at any point. The structure itself is capable of supporting over 100 tonnes.