What are Pre-cast Concrete Panels and Its Significant Uses?

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never swung a hammer or don’t know the handle from the pointy end when you pick up a screwdriver because some construction terms just mean what they say. There’s no subtle second definition for pre-cast concrete, for example, because the label is already an apt descriptor for this workflow-compressing gift to the construction trade. The product quite simply leapfrogs standard concrete pouring techniques, placing the manufacturing of building segments within a controlled environment. It’s a methodology that’s drawing the curious eye of many construction industries as space becomes a premium resource and the concept of finite control becomes so attractive, so let’s turn our spotlight on pre-cast concrete to investigate the form and its applications.

Business is booming in the construction industry. New generations of modern buildings are replacing the aging concrete structures that first poked the sky between the 1950s and 1970s, sending ripples of change clear across the globe. We clear all evidence of these structures from view, fence out a building site, and set to work with fabricated steel beams, new fastening and welding techniques, and clad this superstructure in pre-cast concrete panels. The advantage of this approach is that a construction firm can take the architectural plans and begin ‘forming’ the panels within a plant floor. The concrete is poured without interference from work site obstacles, meaning weather and construction site logistics become a non-issue while the concrete is poured into a mould and cured.

The incorporation of all physical features is managed and regulated at the moulding stage. The eventual dimensions are set by the mould, with other factors steadfastly taken into account within the offsite workflow. This includes the pre-stressing of the final product and the incorporation of all features. We’re talking about apertures for municipal water lines, the façade panels that clad attractive structures, and the storey-height panels that require heavy-duty lifting cranes. For more on this subject, check out the Associated Rigging page on powerful lifting tools, mobile cranes that can start lifting 3 tonne panels and not pause even when lifting weighty 150 tonne loads.

If you’ll excuse us for that last quick promotional sentence, we’ll hasten back to the topic. Pre-cast concrete is gaining traction within construction communities, a level of popularity that signifies a swing away from on-site concrete mixers. The advantage of this offsite manufacturing process pairs quality control with the ability to monitor the curing process, leading to a final product that’s created with superior uniformity. These panels are built as single layers or as sandwiched double-layered panels. The single thickness panels make for excellent exterior cladding panels, pre-stressed retaining walls on civil engineering projects, and countless other applications. Meanwhile, sandwiched pre-cast concrete panels increase soundproofing and other environmental factors, thus situating the product as the optimal solution for interior panels within a home, each complete with moulded door openings and window apertures. Indeed, this puzzle piece approach can fit any application while simultaneously adding high-quality finishes, a speedy construction workflow, and other features that only come from a factory floor production environment.

Things You Need to Know about Steel Fabrication

Steel is a furnace-produced metal, an amalgam of iron and carbon. Production facilities use the intense heat of an open hearth furnace or graduate to the modern electric arc furnace to gift the metal with different characteristic, thus altering its density and ductility. The small percentage of carbon introduced into the furnace stage enables production engineers to manipulate these properties. Indeed, modern metallurgical science is taking steel production even further by introducing other exotic metals into this amalgamation process. Besides the production skill required to create a tough steel alloy, material selectors require knowledge on the SAE grading system. This engineering practice assigns a numerical code to each class of steel, thus identifying every member of the steel family, everything from stainless steel to the high-tensile alloys used in structural engineering projects.

Now that we’ve illustrated some of the issues involved in picking the right grade of steel, in selecting a member of the family that has the mechanical properties we need for the job at hand, there are other fabrication principles to consider. For example, one key characteristic of stainless steel is that it won’t tarnish, a property that’s handy to know if we’re fabricating contemporary cutlery or a set of steel tubes, but not necessarily a relevant feature for a structural job. A structural steel fits in with construction work. It is easy to weld and it will not become brittle. Imagine a welder kneeling down to weld a joint on a thick section of steel. The conductance properties of the metal will dissipate the heat too quickly and affect the weld quality. This phenomenon relates directly to the CEV (Carbon Equivalent Value) of the alloy. Complex equations are associated with CEV, but we can simplify the issue if we say the CEV of the steel should not exceed 0.45, a value that balances weldability against structural hardness.

The panels, supports, fasteners, and networks of beams used to construct a structure are all made from predefined components. There are sized panels to fasten and weld. These are fixed to standardized ‘i-beams,’ and rivets tie the majority of the parts together. A skilled fabricator uses the SAE value of the steel as a guide. The project manager incorporates common and uncommon welding practices into the work by knowing the carbon value of the steel or the presence of other exotic metals. This approach adds the aforementioned CEV rating to other documented specifications when evaluating what parts must be used as supplied and what parts will respond to onsite or factory bending techniques. As for those tough welding attributes, those are handled by TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) and MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding techniques, work practices that are used at the discretion of the construction company, though TIG work is more suited for thin-walled components.

If the engineer in charge is to complete the task with all due alacrity, he or she must know the type of steel that is to be worked upon. This knowledge will guide everything from the bending of the metal to how well it can be welded.