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The advantages of glass fiber reinforced concrete

Updated February 21, 2017

Glass fibre reinforced concrete, also called GFRC and GRC, is a mixture of cement and specially treated glass fibres which resist alkalis. This material is used in architectural panels, especially building facades, but is nonstructural and cannot support other parts of the building. This material offers a number of benefits to architects, builders and homeowners.

Light Weight

While glass fibre reinforced concrete is not lighter or lower density than normal concrete, it can be used in much thinner panels. This allows GFRC facade panels to be lighter and easier to manipulate than facades made from conventional concrete. This lighter weight also makes reinforced concrete panels cheaper and easier to transport and install.

Strength

Despite their relatively light weight, GFRC panels are very strong. They provide better performance than unreinforced precast concrete. According to the Concrete Countertop Institute, these panels are designed to deal with seismic and wind loads, and flex rather than break. The Concrete Network states that GFRC can have flexural strength of as much as 4,000 psi. Panels made with single dimension reinforcing, where all the glass fibres point in the same direction, are stronger than panels with randomly scattered fibres.

Ease of Work

GFRC is internally reinforced with glass fibres and does not require rebar or other internal reinforcement. This makes moulding or spraying the material relatively easy. This material also doesn't crack easily, so workers can cut cured GFRC without worry of chipping, cracking or breaking. When the material is applied using a two-coat process, it also produces very smooth surfaces.

Environmental Impact

The Concrete Network claims that GFRC is more environmentally friendly than conventional concrete. Cement production requires burning immense amounts of fossil fuels, giving it a significant environmental footprint. GFRC uses much less cement than ordinary concrete, since so much of it is made up of glass fibres. These glass fibres often come from recycled sources. This material is also very long-lasting. According to the Concrete Network, correctly manufactured GFRC can outlast conventional concrete and cast stone.

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About the Author

G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, Wis. She has been producing print and Web content for various organizations since 1998 and has been freelancing full-time since 2007. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.