The huge variety of concrete placement techniques allows the use of concrete in a wide range of applications, enabling designers and contractors to choose the optimum technique to deliver efficient projects.
Concrete is a remarkably versatile building material in terms of constituents, mix designs, products, end uses, and placement. This versatility enables the use of concrete in many different applications, allowing designers and architects to take advantage of its inherent sustainability benefits (for example, its fire resistance and durability). The versatility in placement techniques gives designers and contractors the opportunity to optimise use of materials – both concrete and formwork – as well as expanding the applications for which concrete can be considered.
Digital construction in the form of additive manufacturing and 3D printing is transitioning from research and development to bespoke applications and offers a good example of concrete’s versatility. It offers several benefits that include:
- Potential cost-effective geometric flexibility in the shape of buildings, allowing the creation of more complex structures, such as double curved walls. For such bespoke and complex geometries, it also promises faster construction than if attempted in traditional means.
- The constraints on construction site location are potentially reduced: if the 3-D printer and input material can be delivered to site, construction is possible, which may be simpler than delivering large offsite manufactured modules to remote locations or congested cities.
- 3D printing has the potential to be less expensive than traditional construction, due to the more efficient use of materials and a more structured and faster building process.
- 3D printing offers a direct transfer of information from the 3D design model to construction operations, improving accuracy.
A different aspect of concrete’s versatile placement is its ability to harden underwater. Concrete can therefore be cast underwater using tremie pipe or/and anti-washout agent. This capability enables the construction of large structures in water, efficiently and with small appurtenant work, reducing the need for pre-fabrication and therefore costs. In addition, there is no elution of harmful chemicals into the marine environment when using concrete for construction.
Other placement options include self-compacting concrete, fabric formwork, pumped concrete, large volume pours, sprayed concrete, grout injection, centrifuged concrete, slipform, vacuum, extrusion, wet pressing and robotic placement of precast elements by tunnel boring machines.
Header photo by Paul Mocan on Unsplash