GFRC is a great material for architectural elements in both new construction and renovation. But in terms of the materials available for making architectural elements, GFRC is a relatively newer option. The many benefits of GFRC that have been perfected over recent decades have enabled it to become a primary option.
GFRC Development Timeline
The first work with concrete and glass fiber composite materials was by the Soviets during the 1940s. Precast concrete was the material of choice at that time for constructing buildings quickly and affordably, but its weight was a severe drawback since it made components heavy to transport and required extensive work to install. Engineers began experimenting with adding fiberglass to a concrete mixture with the idea that the glass would offer the same structural support but weigh significantly less.
With this early GFRC, the cement corroded the glass fibers after only a short period of time and the elements would begin to weaken and crumble. This made the initial concrete composites less than ideal for constructing permanent structures.
Over the next few years, engineers resolved this issue through the development of alkaline resistant, or AR, glass fibers. These are non corrosive and will stand up to concrete for a surface that will last for decades.
During this time, GFRC was used extensively in Europe, and in the 1970s, it started seeing use in the US as well where engineers were able to make the following changes to give GFRC its current benefits:
- Composition – The composition of GFRC yields a product that is as lightweight as possible while still maintaining structural integrity. It has the flexibility to be molded into the desired shapes and provides a firm, but quick cure. The strong, finished product is less likely to chip or break during shipping and throughout the life of the property.
- Meeting Building Codes – GFRC products meet a range of building standards, including fire resistance, low flame spread rate, low smoke spread, resistance to seismic activity, and more to make GFRC suitable for a range of locations and property types.
- Durability – The durability of GFRC elements today exceeds that of many other architectural materials. It is waterproof, effective through many freeze thaw cycles, resistant to weather, and needs very little cleaning and maintenance throughout its lifetime.
- Eco-Friendly – Fabricators like GC Products make our GFRC elements from recycled materials so that they are sustainable. GFRC is also naturally non-toxic and many contractors are able to use GFRC in facilities that receive LEED or other environmentally friendly certifications.
- Highly Customizable – The refined molding processes and application methods such as spray-up GFRC and poured GFRC have enabled fabricators to provide a range of different architectural elements made from GFRC. Although the initial GFRG panels are still regularly used, GC Products is able – through the use of our modern software and machinery – to make molds of any size, shape, and complexity to make custom GFRC pieces.
Although GFRC is newer than many of the products that were previously used in architectural design, these advantages have made it one of the leading options. Learn more about how GFRC can be used in cutting edge construction and how it provides an effective technology to upgrade existing properties by contacting GC Products today.