Steel fibre reinforced concrete

Hormigón con fibras de metal en museo marsella

Steel fibre reinforced concrete is becoming the preferred alternative to replace traditional mesh reinforced concrete. The reason is that fibres offer remarkable qualities that improve the floor’s mechanical behaviour.

Concrete is an inherently brittle material, being especially weak under tensile or flexural forces, which is why it cracks and chips easily.

Steel fibres alter the concrete’s structure, making it more resistant to tensions, flexing and less sensitive to cracks. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that this type of flooring is gaining popularity in modern industrial buildings.

What is steel fibre concrete?

Steel fibre concrete is a type of reinforced concrete. It’s basically made up of cement, water, sand, gravel and steel fibres. In some cases additives are added.

Steel fibres in concrete
Source: e-zigurat.com

Steel fibres are discontinuous and isotropic, short metal reinforcements similar to metal filaments or threads.

Steel fibres can be corrugated, wavy or smooth, with flat or shaped ends.

The metal fibre reinforcements are distributed throughout the concretes volume, modifying its properties in all directions.

A concrete reinforced with steel fibres is mainly characterized by having a high resistance to compression, traction and flexion. At the same time, it has better ductility and therefore, less tendency to crack.

Advantages and disadvantages of using concrete with steel fibres

Steel fibre reinforced concrete has replaced wire mesh concrete because it allows optimizing construction processes, reducing execution time and construction costs.

However, using concrete with steel fibres has advantages and disadvantages. To gain a better understanding of steel fibre reinforced concrete, we present the advantages and disadvantages of its use.

Advantages

  • The mechanical behaviour of the structure is the same in all directions thanks to the homogeneous distribution of the fibres.
  • Increases surface resistance to abrasion and erosion.
  • Increases durability, minimizing the appearance of cracks and fissures in concrete floors.
  • Provides greater resistance to compression, traction, torsion, and shear force, meaning a greater loading capacity.
  • Increases the persistence and ductility of traditional concrete.
  • Greater resistance to impacts, explosions, dynamic and cyclic loads.
  • It’s possible to combine with wire mesh, to create an even more resistant structural system.
  • Enables saving materials by creating thinner and lighter structures.
  • It allows to lay concrete floors up to 2500 m2 without joints.

Disadvantages

  • Risk of the appearance of steel fibres on the structures surface.
  • The appearance of fibres affects the aesthetics of the structure.
  • An irregular mixing process of the concrete with the steel fibres can lead to the formation of balling fibres, reducing the material’s isotopic properties.
  • The use of steel fibres eliminates the concrete’s docility.
  • It’s crucial to accurately determine the type, amount and length of fibre that should be used.

When is it worth using concrete with steel fibres?

The evaluation of advantages and disadvantages of reinforced concrete with steel fibres clearly shows that it’s a beneficial material that is in consistency with its wide spectrum of application.

Among the uses of steel fibre concrete are:

  • Prefabricated elements.
  • Tunnel lining.
  • Industrial flooring, military and commercial.
  • Shotcrete.
  • High resistance concrete.
  • Lightweight concrete.

The industrial sector is one of the environments that has benefited the most from the steel fibre concrete performance. The construction of warehouses and storage areas with flooring (and walls) of reduced thickness offering large areas without joints.

In addition, industrial flooring with steel fibre are capable of withstanding the stresses and abrasion caused by the static and dynamic loads of industrial activity, minimizing the appearance of fissures, cracks and dust.

Steel fibre concrete flooring is recommended for industries with high traffic and heavy machinery.

However, if you want to continue going for conventional concrete for industrial floors, it can be improved with chemical treatments.

The BECOSAN® treatment is one of the most outstanding treatments on the market. It uses a special formula that allows to densify and compact concrete floors, increasing its strength and improving its resistance and durability.

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