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The term “pre-tensioning” is done through the stressing of wires or the strands,

or what we called tendons, to determine first the amount of stress by stretching

them between the two anchorages prior to place the concrete. The tendons were
tensioned just before the concrete is placed. after placing the concrete, the
tendons become bounded to the concrete throughout their length. After the
concrete have developed the sufficient strength, the tension is slowly released
from the frame or the anchorage to transfer the stress to the concrete to which
the tendons become bonded. The tendons tend to regain their original length by
shortening and in this process transfer through bond a compressive stress to the
concrete. The tendons are usually stressed by the use of hydraulic jacks. The
stress in tendons is maintained during the placing and curing of concrete by
anchoring the ends of the tendons to abutments that may be as much as 200m
apart. The abutments and other formwork used in this procedure are called
prestressing bench or bed. The tendons are temporarily anchored and tensioned
and the prestress is transferred to the concrete after it is hardened.
Post-tensioning: In which the tendon is tensioned after concrete has hardened.
Tendons are placed in sheathing at suitable places in the member before casting
and later after hardening of concrete.

The alternative to pre-tensioning is post-tensioning. In a post-tensioned beam,
the tendons are stressed and each end is anchored to the concrete section after
the concrete has been cast and has attained sufficient strength to safely
withstand the prestressing force as shown in fig.2. in post-tensioning method,
tendons are coated with grease or a bituminous material to prevent them from
becoming bonded to concrete. Another method used in preventing the tendons
from bonding to the concrete during placing and curing of concrete is to encase
the tendon in a flexible metal hose before placing it in the forms. The metal hose
is referred to as sheath or duct and remains in the structure.
After the tendon has been stressed, the void between the tendon and the sheath
is filled with grout. Thus the tendons become bonded to concrete and corrosion
of steel is prevented.
Post-tension prestressing can be done at site. This procedure may become
necessary or desirable in certain cases. For heavy loads and large spans in
buildings or bridges, it may be very difficult to transport a member from pre-
casting plant to a job site. On the other hand, pre-tensioning can be used in pre-
cast as well as in cast-in-place construction.
In post-tensioning it is necessary to use some types of device to attach or anchor
the ends of the tendons to the concrete section. These devices are usually
referred to as end anchorages. There are a large number of patents for different
types of anchorages. They may also differ n the details of construction. Some of
the popular methods are:
Freyssinet system
Magnel system
Leonhardt system
Lee-McCall system
Gifford-Udall system

By controlling the amount of prestress, a structural system can be made

either flexible [portal frame], or rigid [floor slab] without influencing its

Prestressed, pre-tensioned, tendons are tensioned by a jack without any

concrete. Then, concrete is poured, allowed to set and bond, at which time
the ends are cut and the beam becomes instantly stressed by the tendons.
Service loads can then be applied.

Prestressed, post-tensioned, tendons are tensioned by a jack after the

concrete has already cured (but a duct is installed such that the concrete is
unbonded to the prestressing), at which time the tendons are tensioned by
means of a hydraulic jack, and the beam becomes stressed. Grout may or
may not then infill the ducts. Grouting should typically be performed, to
minimize the chance of a single tendon rupture causing catastrophic failure
of the member. Service loads can then be applied.

Post-tensioning minimizes losses in prestress that are a result of concrete

shrinkage. The only prestress loss due to shrinkage would come as a result
of duct grout shrinkage. In addition, for pre-tensioned beams,
because of concrete compressive strain at the instant that the tendons
transfer the compressive force to the concrete beam (see figure below).
More explicitly,

For post-tensioned beams, with all of the tendons jacked simultaneously,

the concrete will strain, but our value for will be equal to our , since
the tendon force is essentially (neglecting ‘anchor set’)
measured after the load is applied to the beam (after the hydraulic jacking
is complete). This is in contrast to pre-tensioning, where is
measured before the load is applied to the beam (before the tendons are

However, post-tensioning is more prone to anchorage zone failure, as the

beam is stressed by the tendons, since large compressive forces (especially
when the tendons are un-bonded) occur only at the ends of the beam. Pre-
tensioned beams transfer the tendon force to the concrete through friction,
within a given ‘transfer length’ near the ends of the beam, rather than at a
single point. This distinct feature of pre-tensioned beams is analogous to
the development length for concrete mild-reinforced members, and should
not be confused with ‘friction losses’ in post-tensioned beams.

Losses due to friction are unavoidable for post-tensioned beams. This will
be explained in detail in the section on friction losses.

In general, either method (pre or post-tensioning) can be used, depending

on application.

Suffice to say, the effective prestressing force, , is less than the initial
prestressing force , such that .

A couple of other notes about pre-tensioning and post-tensioning:

Where pre-tensioning is concerned, ‘hold-downs’ to form the ‘draped’

shape of the tension, which we will talk about later, are expensive.
Typically, pre-tensioned beams will use a ‘harped’ shape, which is
marginally less efficient for most beams loading conditions.

One reason for the grouting of post-tensioned beams is to avoid a condition

where a single tendon failure point would cause total failure, i.e. a tendon
puncture from a careless jack hammer.

The center of gravity

(c.g.) of the tendon and the c.g. of the duct are different.

NOT accounting for this would essentially be unconservative.