Once upon a time, concrete meant just one thing--for better or for worse. Nowadays, however, there is a wide variety of different types of concrete available, each with their own particular benefits. If you would like to familiarize yourself with one of the most exciting new types of concrete, read on. Here is what you need to know about steel fiber concrete.
As its name would imply, what makes steel fiber concrete unique is the addition of thin strands of steel during the mixing process. The idea is that these fibers act to boost the concrete's resistance to stress related cracks and spalling. Depending on the hoped-for strength boost, one of five types of steel fiber may be used:
- cold drawn fiber
- cut sheet fiber
- melt extracted fiber
- mill cut fiber
- modified cold drawn fiber
Tensile strength is the most important difference between the five types of steel fiber. The greater the tensile strength, the more resistance the wire will display when it comes to resisting routine stresses. Tensile strength is expressed in terms of pounds per square inch, or psi. The tensile strength of a particular steel fiber may be anywhere between 50,000 and 445,000 psi.
The type of steel fiber being used is not the only factor in determining the resulting strength of the concrete. Just as important is the length of the fibers utilized. Generally speaking, the longer the fiber, the more effective it will be at holding the concrete together. Yet fibers at the longer end of the spectrum present additional difficulties, in that they are not as easily integrated into the wet mix. Thus a compromise must often be made between workability and tensile strength.
How Steel Fiber Works
By now you are aware that steel fiber is used to increase the strength of the concrete, and thus lengthen the life of a particular surface. This results from the fact that the steel fibers help the concrete to cure more efficiently. The fibers do this by reducing both the frequency and the severity of so-called plastic shrinkage cracks. These cracks are caused by water evaporating out of the concrete as it dries.
Steel fiber increases the internal strength of the concrete, thus allowing it to more successfully resist the effects of this natural process of dehydration. In addition, steel fiber boosts the fully cured concrete's resistance to damage. This allows contractors to increase the strength of a concrete slab, while actually reducing its thickness--thus saving on the costs of installing a thicker slab. For more information on cement, talk to a professional like Mershon Concrete.