I have now been working for Hi-con NL for a year and therefore I have something to look back on. When I think back to my first contacts with Hi-con, it was obviously about the material CRC. I remember that it was a positive surprise to see and hear about the possibilities with this material. That was also the beginning of the fascination for CRC.
The fascination with CRC arose when seeing the first drawings with very slender elements for a bridge. A bridge that, almost 2 years later, should win the Dutch concrete award.
I had already built up constructive experience, both theoretically and practically, with several years of experience in the world of prefabricated concrete, so I knew globally something about the possibilities. A slimness for a bridge of 1 to 30, we know, is already very neat. Thin elements with two reinforcement nets about 12 cm thick you can count on.
Until I saw drawings of the Catharine Bridge … a slenderness of 1:81.
Until I saw drawings of Hi-con balconies … a thickness of 6cm.
I noticed that the experience I had was actually limited to the regular concrete types. And exactly that was the biggest difference. With the application of CRC (Compact Reinforced Composite) a new world opened. The designs are no longer dominated by the requirements regarding crack formation. No, the designs are controlled by the requirements / guidelines for comfort (vibration) and usability (deflection). And that is actually what constructors have always wanted. Designs are no longer limited by the limitations of the material. No, the material can be used functionally. As much as needed, no more than necessary! That is exactly what we need, right?
An additional advantage of the material is that it allows a specific and special appearance for an end-product. It is possible to obtain a very dense, flat and smooth surface. Of course, very dependent on the auxiliary materials used and the skills of the people who work with it. In comparison with other materials, the surface is closest to ceramic. To give you some reference.
With this I have indicated that you, the reader, will understand that I have become fascinated by the material CRC.
Very nice, CRC, okay, but what can I do with it? I can hear you thinking.
For applications where the material really fits best, you should think of, especially, slender stairs, slender balconies, slender bridges and artworks. In other words, elements or parts where you want to get rid of the massive grey appearance of the common concrete types. We notice that there are still many questions in the market where CRC is a possible solution, precisely where you cannot use the products you are familiar with, or simply want something special.
This does not only apply to the products themselves, but the question, or the problem can also lie in the constructive background. Due to the limited use of material, it is possible to use balconies for renovations, while that might not be possible in other material. Conversely, with our material we can also make larger balconies with the same load on the construction. How beautiful is that?!
From whichever side I view it myself … CRC is always used as a solution. Noted here that CRC is not always an answer, admittedly.
I perceive that new clients are often struggling with the same returning practical questions:
How to connect these kind of slender prefabricated elements to my construction? This can lead to an endless journey of searching for a solution by clients. From out of Hi-Con we have specific experiences with several kinds of connection-type to several kinds of constructions. We take cold-bridges, renovation-situations or whatsoever into account, when finding a solution. Not only in terms of engineering, but also in practical sense. That’s one of the advantages of the years of experience in Hi-con.
Are these Hi-con balconies safe ? Won’t they fall off or vibrate? These are the two most returning questions. The question is quite simple, though. They don’t fall off and the vibrations are checked with the regulations. The available strength of the balconies is far more then strictly needed. This is proven with several practical tests. A slender balcony has a natural frequency, which is checked in the calculation. These frequencies are frequently measured and compared with the calculations. Therefore, with this information we know what really happens in the practical situation. And, if needed, we can adjust the calculations so we know that they fit onto the real-life situation.
More of the how’s and whys and the further background you can read in other blogposts of my colleagues. Please click through the blogs on this site. I am sure it will arouse your interest … if that has not already happened.
Thanks for reading!
Henry van de Werken