This week’s post comes from Brad Erickson, who is the Engineering Manager for the Composite Strengthening Systems™ product line at our home office. Brad is a licensed civil and structural engineer in the State of California and has worked in the engineering field for more than 17 years. After graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Architectural Engineering, he worked for Watry Design, Inc. as an Associate Principal before coming to Simpson Strong-Tie. Brad is the Engineering Manager for Composite Strengthening Systems and his experience includes FRP design, masonry and both post-tensioned and conventional concrete design. While not at work, Brad enjoys spending time carting his three kids around to their competitive soccer games and practices.
Have you ever had a concrete or masonry design project where rebar was left out of a pour? Chances are, the answer is yes. Did you wish you could solve this problem by putting rebar on the outside of that element? That’s exactly what Simpson Strong-Tie Composite Strengthening Systems™ (CSS) can do for you and your project. In effect, composites act like external rebar for your concrete or masonry element. Composites can be used in similar configurations to rebar but are applied on the exterior surface of the element being strengthened.
The initial offering in our CSS line is our fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) product group. An FRP composite is created by taking carbon or glass fabric and saturating it with a two-part epoxy which, when cured, creates the composite. Together, the weight of the fabric and the number of layers in the composite determine how much strength it will add to your concrete or masonry element.
Another form of FRP composite is a precured carbon laminate. The carbon fibers are saturated in the manufacturing facility and are attached to the structure using CSS-EP epoxy paste and filler, an epoxy with a peanut butter–like consistency. We also carry paste profilers (pictured below) that help contractors apply the proper amount of paste to a piece of precured laminate.
Of course, before any concrete or masonry reinforcement project can succeed, proper surface preparation is of the utmost importance. Without a good bond with the substrate, a composite will not be able to achieve the intended performance. Concrete voids must be repaired, cracks must be injected and sealed, and any deteriorated rebar must be cleaned and coated. Prior to composite placement, the surface of the substrate must be prepared to CSP-3 (concrete surface profile) in accordance with ICRI Guideline No. 310.2. Grinding and blasting are the most common surface-preparation techniques.
The following are just a few applications where composites can be used for concrete and/or masonry retrofits. The orange arrows show the direction of the fibers in the fabric – in other words, the direction in which the composite provides tension reinforcement.
This is a summary of the basics of composites and their installation on strengthening projects. As composites are not yet in the design codes in the United States, the American Concrete Institute has produced 440.2R-08: Guide for the Design and Construction of Externally Bonded FRP Systems for Strengthening Concrete Structures. This guide has numerous recommendations for using fiber-reinforced polymer systems to strengthen your concrete or masonry construction.
If you would like more information about FRP design, you can learn the best practices for fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) strengthening design during a recorded webinar offered by Simpson Strong-Tie Professional Engineers. We look at FRP components, applications and installation. We also take you behind the scenes to share the evaluation process informing a flexural beam-strengthening design example and talk about the assistance and support Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Services offers from initial project assessment to installation.
For complete information regarding specific products suitable to your unique situation or condition, please visit strongtie.com/rps or call your local Simpson Strong-Tie RPS specialist.