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Self-Compacting Concrete Offers Design Potential

Owners and architects can benefit from a new type of concrete that offers high quality, durability and speed while creating new design options


he proposed renovations to that. It produces flawless pieces every ity, improved bond strength and great Soldier Field Stadium along time. This material is definitely the way aesthetic properties, says Tony Chicagos lakefront provide a of the future, from what I see, and its a Schlagbaum, group manager of product creative design that retains some of the technology were going to have to catch marketing for Master Builders Inc. in Cleveland, which produces the material. landmark exterior of the existing up to. And it can be used in virtually any structure while offering state-of-the-art precast concrete application. amenities and layout inside. One Workability Increased Precast manufacturer Finfrock ingredient in that plan will be precast Self-compacting concrete (SCC) concrete stadium tubs that are being features a concrete mixture that Industries Inc., in Orlando, Fla., has proposed to be made with self-com- incorporates high-range water-reducing found a variety of uses for the material, pacting concrete, a new material now admixtures that significantly increase the which helps the company produce just gaining designers higher quality and attention. The material more durable comCOMPRESSIVE STRENGTH offers a range of benponents at a faster rate, 9000 efits to both designers says Daniel Finfrock, and precasters, includdirector of operations ing aesthetic quality, and manufacturing. 7500 speed and durability, The company regularly but its potential is just produces a number of 6000 beginning to be undercomponents with SCC, Self-Compacting Concrete stood. including stairs, 4500 The design for the columns and beams. Windy Citys new staSCC works particudium calls for tubs lolarly well with vertical 3000 Normal Concrete cated high overhead components that infor which the back clude obstructions to 1500 sides will be easily the form at the top, visible to visitors passsuch as tall columns 0 ing beneath them, says with block-outs. In 1 3 7 28 Don Caithamer, qualthose cases, where TIME (DAYS) ity assurance manager theres a concern about This chart contrasts the compressive strengths that can be gained with selfat J.W. Peters & Sons compacting concrete (SCC), and normal concrete. SCC can attain significantly ensuring that aggregate Inc. in Burlington, higher early and 28-day strengths. reaches the bottom of Wis., the precaster for the form and doesnt the components. I need those pieces to materials workability and fluidity. As a segregate earlier due to obstructions, be flawless, so they present a strong, result, it flows quickly into place, fills there is a huge advantage to using selfaesthetic view, he explains. But I dont every corner of a form and surrounds compacting concrete, says Finfrock. want to try to have someone up in the even densely packed reinforcement. Adds Caithamer, Its fantastic for air having to rub them smooth once Self-compacting concrete not only can insulated wall panels. Its going to reduce theyre erected. By using self-compacting speed the casting process, but it offers my overtime dramatically on fast-track concrete, I wont have to worry about increased strength, freeze/thaw durabil- projects.

The renovation work being proposed for Soldier Field in Chicago will feature precast concrete tubs using self-compacting concrete from J.W. Peters & Sons Inc. The material will provide a flawless finish that eliminates the need for patching, speeding the work considerably.

A variety of advantages can be derived from the use of SCC that benefit the owner and designer. These include: High quality. Because the material flows so readily to fill any gaps, no voids or bug holes develop. This reduces the time needed to inspect each component, as well

SCC opens the potential for more complex shapes and thinner pieces.
as any labor or time to rub the pieces smooth to create a smooth finish.

Aesthetically, self-compacting concrete is superior to anything Ive ever seen, says Caithamer. SCC virtually eliminates any holes. It can create flawless pieces. That saves him costs not only in labor to inspect and repair but also by allowing him to eliminate any cost variable to cover pieces rejected due to flaws. Aesthetic value. The smooth finish that can be created produces an aesthetically pleasing component. SCC also produces a consistently lighter color with reduced discoloration, says Frank Kliewer, plant manager with Newcrete Products Inc., in Roaring Spring, Pa. Pour lines from placer to placer load of concrete also are reduced. It produces an improved overall appearance, he says. Architects and owners who have


Precast panels using self-compacting concrete are shown being poured at the Finfrock Industries plant in Orlando, Fla. The material flows quickly to fill every nook and cranny, leaving no voids and flowing around densely packed reinforcement.


Slump/Spread Ranges

Normal <8" (200mm) slump Self-Compacting 18 to 26"+ (450-600mm)+ spread

Source: Master Builders Inc.

Fast production. Because SCC flows so smoothly, it can be poured quickly and eliminates the need to vibrate the concrete into tight spaces and around densely packed reinforcement. That speeds the entire production process. At J.W. Peters, for instance, Caithamer anticipates using SCC to produce double tee components


seen the pieces weve produced have given us very positive comments about them.

The Childrens Hospital University Avenue parking facility in Philadelphia, currently in the erection phase, was designed with precast, prestressed concrete components. Many of the components provided by the Newcrete Products Division of New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. Inc., using SCC were pretopped double tees, light walls, shear walls, slabs and inverted tee beams. The material was chosen for the 10-story, 660,550square-foot project due to the time savings and high performance.


when he needs to produce a large number. Its hard for me to schedule it now, because I can pour SCC faster than I can get it to the beds, he says. When we need large quantities, its great, because we can just keep it moving through the bed, he says. It needs to be leveled after its poured, but for the most part, I pour it out and Im done. The speed with which it sets up also eliminates the need for steam or heat curing of concrete to facilitate early strength gain, says Master Builders Schlagbaum. This system will potentially allow a precast operation to maintain regular production cycles of 14 to 18 hours without steam or heat and speed up curing overall, he says. This early strength gain allows fast turnaround and reduced cycle times.

Design flexibility. Because SCC flows so readily into thin sections and details, it opens the potential for using complex shapes and intricate surfaces. It also ensures no patching of holes after casting or potential damage to pieces during vibration. This is especially significant for delicate panels, such as those with brick insets, notes Victor Borcea, quality control manager with Finfrock. Adds Peters Caithamer, Theres simply no human or material error that we need to compensate for when casting any design. That means we can schedule tighter and produce better looking pieces. Durability. The materials ability to remain stable during and after placement maximizes the structural integrity and durability of the concrete, says Schlagbaum. The admixtures provide a

higher compressive strength than traditional concrete, making it substantially stronger. It also offers less permeability due to the high consolidation of material,

The premium cost will be reduced as precasters factor in their manpower savings and adjust their processes.
allowing it to resist chemical attack and improve the components durability. It provides a high modulus of elasticity, ensuring low elastic deformation of the concrete under dynamic and static loads.


SCC Cost Savings

The Newcrete Products Division of New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. Inc. in Roaring Spring, Pa., is using self-compacting concrete on a variety of projects, including a number of parking structures. The cost comparison it has made shows that SCC could cut costs significantly for activities such as pouring and patching pretopped tees. The cost of using the SCC mixture can easily offset the estimated 3.5% per-yard premium when the savings are extended on a yearly basis, Newcretes Frank Kliewer says. For instance, looking at our production facility we have noticed a 46% savings in total man-hours per section and a 44% savings in patching man-hours per section. Analyzing those percentage numbers over the course of a one-year production time calculates out with significant savings.

Catching Up To SCC
To be sure, there are some obstacles yet to be overcome before use of the material is widespread. A key one is its cost, as the admixtures and other additives create a premium over existing concrete costs. But the savings that can result from using SCC effectively give precasters a compelling reason to close the gap on logistics. There is plenty of cost savings to be captured yet, because the full potential hasnt been realized, because were not fully set up to exploit

SCCs Key Attributes

The two key attributes of self-compacting concrete are its high degree of workability and its stability during and after placement, according to Tony Schlagbaum, group manager of product marketing for Master Builders Inc., in Cleveland, which produces a version of the material called Rheodynamic Concrete. The workability of SCC is typically characterized by using a modification of the traditional ASTM C 143 slump test method. In the modified procedure, called the slump flow test, the concrete is not rodded after placement in the slump cone, and the spread of concrete (slump flow) is measured instead of slump. This test measures the unconfined fluidity of the concrete and gives a relative indication of the degree to which the concrete can travel. The spread generally is between 18 and 30 inches. The concretes stability is an indication of its ability to resist segregation of the paste from the aggregates. Although there is no standard test to measure SCC stability, some of the flow measurements, such as slump flow, provide a qualitative assessment of the concrete stability, Schlagbaum says. In general, the setting time for Master Builders Rheodynamic concrete is about 30 to 90 minutes longer than conventional concrete, he notes. Accelerating or retarding admixtures can be used to produce concrete with the desired setting characteristics. Rheodynamic concrete mixtures can be used in virtually any precast concrete application, be it architectural, structural or utility, says Schlagbaum. Different mixtures may be necessary in each project, because each will have a different shape, level of intricacy, size, level of reinforcement and coarse aggregate content, he notes. SCC has been used for exposed-aggregate, intricate pieces, structural applications, vaults, culverts and barrier precast applications. the benefits, says Caithamer. As precasters become familiar with the material, theyll become more effective at using it and realize cost savings that offset the material costs. A key savings for precasters will come in reduced manpower, which can be virtually eliminated from the vibrating, repair and patching activities. Being able to pour such a large quantity of precast quickly also will cut labor on large jobs. When we can minimize production time, we can maximize our use of labor and cut the cost on each job, Caithamer says. With labor costs the key component that drives costs up over time, using SCC will offer ways to hold production costs steady over a long time. For instance, Caithamer estimates that production of a double tee typically can add a $9.44 premium of standard cost per yard of concrete. Using SCC and beds geared to the fast production time could reduce the premium to $7.08 per yard. Similarly, an inverted tee would add a $12.02 premium per yard, but with no need for inspections for honeycombing and no time required for vibrating concrete and the manpower needed to oversee that, he can reduce it to a $7.90 premium. And that doesnt count the elimination of any cushion needed to compensate for rejected components. I can quantify the savings that can be achieved while also producing an aesthetically superior product which is a number I cant really quantify, he says. But I have to be able to take full advantage of its efficiencies to achieve those savings. Understanding how to exploit the full benefits will be the key to using SCC effectively and extensively, Caithamer says. At the moment, SCC is really more advanced than we are, he admits. We need to catch up to it to take full advantage of what it offers. This material is something completely different, and theres still room to go for us to understand how we can make the best use of it for our clients. Manpower and bed placement are two key requirements to adapting to it. It also works best with components that dont require a troweled finish, notes Finfrocks Borcea. Because of its viscosity, SCC requires two to three hours to set firmly enough to provide a troweled finish, compared to traditional concrete, which doesnt require that

wait. SCC works well for some products but not for all, he says. The advantages in not having to vibrate the concrete are compelling, because it eliminates so much time. Its also an ideal way to cast stairs and long columns. Newcretes Kliewer agrees. The company began using SCC in November 2000 and went into full production in March 2001. It has since produced approximately 20,000 cubic yards and has used the material on several projects, including five parking structures and a wholesale production plant addition. It currently produces approximately 250 cubic yards of SCC components per day. With real manufacturing savings in both pouring and patching areas as well as significant quality improvements made to date, we have made changes to our two 12-foot double tee lines to take advantage of the benefits without having to use additional resources, Kliewer says. Included in the changes was the addition of 50 feet to the 12-foot-wide double tee beds to maximize pouring efficiency. J.W. Peters also intends to adapt to the material. We have some locations where were ready to install a new batch plant, says Caithamer. Well be incorporating these new admixtures into our designs for those, because this material is definitely in our future. The only limitations are our being able to take advantage of its speed. It requires a new mindset. The need for a new mindset ultimately will carry over to designers, who will be able to create more detailed shapes and worry less about strand placements in complicated components. I see endless uses for SCC, ulti mately, Caithamer says. Our Soldier Field project is only one example of where I believe well be using the material as we learn more about its best uses. If I can use it in cases like that one, where Im taking advantage of its aesthetic value alone, it will pay off due to the flawless look. Theres still room to go in adapting, and we want to make adjustments slowly to find the most effective approach. But this produces a whole new ballgame, and we intend to take full advantage of it in time. Craig A. Shutt