Glass Fibre Reinforced Concrete, also known as GRC and GFRC, is a cement-based composite material reinforced with aggregates, polymers and alkali-resistant fibres. GFRC can be formed into thin sectioned lightweight elements and provides designers, architects and engineers with substantial advantages when compared to other traditional concrete materials. GFRC is used worldwide to manufacture a vast range of precast products for the building and civil engineering industries. A leader in the design, manufacturing and installation of GFRC in the production of precast mouldings is Petra Design. GFRC panels are Lightweight, durable, and provide unlimited diversity in color and form. Petra Design’s versatile GFRC panels allow for innovative exterior designs with sculptural shapes. GFRC panels have superior flexibility and lightness to simplify structural framing needs, all the while reducing foundation costs.
The use of fiberglass in architectural design is relatively new and ultimately the result of an evolution in technology. Indeed, despite its hypothesized application in the late 1940’s as an additive to reinforce concrete, the first fiberglass was ineffective, defective, and ultimately unsuccessful due to the alkaline nature of the cement attacking and breaking down the fibres. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that the problem was solved with the development of alkali resistant fibreglass that contains a high level of zirconium dioxide. Eversince, the application of fibreglass has grown widespread throughout the reinforcement of concrete products and especially in the production of thin architectural cladding panels and ornamental concrete such as domes, statues, planters, and fountains. Decorative concrete artisans, similar to those at Petra Design utilize the benefits of GFRC to create handcrafted and exquisite decorative panels such as fireplace mantels.
Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete Applications:
- GFRC Columns and Column covers
- GFRC cornices
- GFRC Moulding
- GFRC Balustrade system
- GFRC porticos
- GFRC Fountains
- GFRC Planters
- GFRC Quoins
- GFRC Signs
- GFRC Wall Panel
- GFRC Domes
Advantages of GFRC:
Light weight: With GFRC, concrete can be cast in thinner sections and is therefore as much as 75% lighter than similar pieces cast with traditional concrete allowing for lighter foundations and reduced shipping costs.
Increased strength: GFRC is a very strong material for architectural elements, this means it will last longer with less maintenance.
Reinforcement: Since GFRC is reinforced internally, there is no need for other kinds of reinforcement, which can be difficult to place into complex shapes.
Consolidation: For sprayed GFRC, no vibration is needed. For poured, GFRC, vibration or rollers are easy to use to achieve consolidation.
Equipment: Expensive equipment is not needed for poured or vibrated GFRC with a face coat; for sprayed GFRC, equipment generally costs about $10,000.
Toughness: GFRC doesn’t crack easily-it can be cut without chipping.
Surface finish: Because it is sprayed on, the surface has no bugholes or voids.
Adaptability: Sprayed or poured into a mold, GFRC can adapt to nearly any complex shape, from rocks to fine ornamental details.
Durability: Being a substitute for steel, the glass fibres in GFRC prevent rusting and promote durability during salty and high moisture environments. Just as well, GFRC does not burn and will protect the material covered from the heat of the flame.
Sustainable: Because it uses less cement than equivalent concrete and also often uses significant quantities of recycled materials (as a pozzolan), GFRC qualifies as sustainable.
Cost: GFRC as a material, however, is much more expensive than conventional concrete on a pound-for-pound basis. But since the cross sections can be so much thinner, that cost is overcome in most decorative elements.
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