Different Structural Systems Part 1 – Precast, Reinforced and Post-Tensioned Concrete, Masonry

14 September 2018

In engineering parlance, structural systems are intended as edifice forming and load supporting frameworks. Envisage all of the intersecting and interconnecting structural elements inside a building. In all such cases, this skeletal frame is held together by a building envelope. That outer cladding adheres to certain conventions. Concrete walls, brick masonry, post-tensioned or reinforced concrete, all of these materials deliver load-supporting strength. They also feature facade-enhancing attributes.

Precast Concrete

On the whole, precast structural envelopes assemble like gigantic building blocks. They’re formed off-site, then they’re transported by heavy plant equipment to the site. Made as a load-bearing or non-load bearing building medium, denser precast panels typically incorporate wire mesh or reinforced steel rebar. Alternatively, there’s a slight variation on this structural support system, which uses on-site concrete pouring. Forms, a type of site mould, are needed to facilitate the process.

Reinforced Structural Systems

This type of construction work delivers greater load-bearing strength, but it’s also a time-consuming method. High traffic roadways, off-ramps, high-rise parking lots, and mighty load-bearing structure envelopes, all of these edifices require reinforcement, which means adding steel rods (rebar) and ties to the framework before the concrete can be poured. Thanks to developments in reinforced concrete systems, today’s mega structures are climbing higher than ever before.

Post-Tensioned Concrete Systems

Like the tendons in a stiffly held arm, long steel cables run through structural support frames. The concrete is laid or poured into a form, then the cables are tensioned and anchored. Again, we’re reminded of a skeletal substructure, a hidden group of connected elements within the main superstructure. Only this time around, the skeleton is made of cables, not steel beams, and those cables need to be tightened like piano strings.

The Structural Masonry Brick

Typically, masonry structural systems don’t support entire buildings. Equipped with steel studs and wood or steel framing, a portion of a building can be given load-bearing strength by masonry, although this practice usually necessitates the construction of a second wall of bricks. Alternatively, there are structural concrete bricks on the market, which fall into a category known as the concrete masonry unit. Colloquially, expect to find such masonry blocks referred to as cinder blocks or breeze bricks.

As main category entries, the above structural systems also divide into further subcategories. For example, reinforced supports immediately conjure up images of steel cages, which receive a load of poured concrete. On widening that category, however, there are cellulose fibres and numerous other high-functioning alternatives. Likewise, as a post-tensioning alternative, there’s also prestressed concrete, which adds the compressive force to the steel strands before the concrete is poured.

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