The idea of mixing synthetic fibers into concrete is already over 30 years old. The first time it was presented at the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva, where this ground breaking innovation won a gold medal. This medal can still be found in the safe of Brugg Contec AG because the invention originates from a sister company of Brugg Contec who was set up later as a spin-off.
Brugg Contec itself is part of the Brugg Group, a globally active family-owned Swiss company with more than 120 years in Engineering and Manufacturing.
Synthetic fibers as a replacement for steel reinforcement and steel fibers
While the majority of on the market available synthetic fibers are used for simple applications such as shrinkage crack reduction and fire protection, Brugg Contec focuses on a completely other field of application: the replacement or reduction of conventional steel mesh or steel fibers by high-performance synthetic fibers. Because less steel-reinforcement means cost reduction! The applications are diversified.
Industrial floors, exterior surfaces, airports, roads
The enormous weight of conventional steel mesh causes not only high costs for transport, also laying (installation) is time consuming and the dispersion of the concrete also is often difficult. Although steel fibers make life easier, the cost for 25, 30 or even more kilos per m3 (a European standard) of concrete are still high. In addition, there is the corrosion problem and the future maintenance cost for the end user.
The fibrillated synthetic fiber of Brugg Contec called Fibrofor High Grade and the bi-component high performance macrofiber Concrix are real alternatives for industrial floor makers. Beside the extremely simple use – 1 kg High Grade replaces up to 25 kg of steel fibers! – and the problem free mixing of High Grade into the concrete Brugg Contec also makes the necessary structural calculations and guarantees for their correctness. Of course, the calculations are based on Eurocode 2 which is worldwide state-of-the-art, using finite elements method. If the loads are too high and High Grade is not sufficient any more, either additional reinforcement with steel or with the macro fiber Concrix is recommended and calculated, whatever is more economical for the customer.
Also in precast elements the conventional steel reinforcement can be completely or partially replaced by Concrix. The time-consuming installation of the steel can be avoided because the fibers are pre-mixed into the concrete which is then filled in the formwork. The enormously dense fiber mesh of the bicomponent macrofiber Concrix® (120’000 fibers per kg Concrix®) as well as their low cross-section (0.5 mm diameter) provide a reinforcement of the component to the finest edge, spalling of edges be avoided. And rust stain, which is a disaster for architectural elements used as parts of the façade is obviously not an issue with synthetic fibers.
Tunnels, mines and other shotcrete applications
For years and decades, steel fiber reinforced shotcrete has been used successfully in tunneling instead of reinforcing mats. The problems with steel fibers, for example difficult handling due to the high weight, balling during mixing, high rebound rates during spraying, the wear on hoses and nozzles, but also the corrosion and the increased risk of injuries due to sticking out fibers have been accepted because of lack of alternatives.
The unique bicomponent macrofiber, Concrix® offers the advantages of steel fibers, namely the high working capacity, but eliminates their above-mentioned disadvantages. The secret is the bicomponent fiber structure, the increase of crystallinity and the modulus of elasticity and the incorporation of special additives. In addition, the structured surface improves the bond with the concrete and results in a working capacity unequaled on the market.
Also the creeping problem, typical for conventional synthetic fibers, has been eliminated with Concrix®, proved by a creeping test which has been running now for more than 1’000 days by an independent test institute (EMPA Switzerland, which is part of the Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich).
And the future?
In mines in Australia, where security is a must, steel fibers have long been replaced by synthetic fibers. Tunnels, for example in Norway close to the sea are reinforced with synthetic fiber concrete since corrosion must be avoided. For industrial floors Fibrofor High Grade fibers are more and more the standard, and streets and other outdoor areas where corrosion is a real problem, are more and more reinforced with synthetic fibers. Steel can and will certainly not be replaced everywhere by synthetic fibers, but high-quality polyolefin fibers have become a viable alternative depending on the application and where it makes sense for builders.For further details: Brugg Contec AG
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