The words Steel and Reinforcement are almost interchangeable
and the combination of concrete and steel, inseparable.
Experience of the construction process reveals the intricate application of a combination of rebar and welded mesh, to create columns, beams, floors and balconies, suspended slabs, driveways and paths. After casting, these critical bones and fibers vanish under the concrete skin and although hidden, play the critical role in support and shelter, which most of us take for granted.
Classic reinforced concrete structures
Frank Lloyd-Wright's Solomon R. Guggenheim museum, New York - 1959 | Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, Pennsylvania - 1935 | Le Corbusier's Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, France, 1954
In the Caribbean, our contemporary structures have never been more capable of withstanding storm impact, thanks to the understanding of how steel and mesh work so well together to protect us. Thankfully, the corner cutting and guess work mistakes of earlier times have been replaced with the precise calculations of building codes, to smooth the path of construction confidence. This assuredness will certainly lead to a bright future for our region's architects, as they become as proficient and imaginative as Frank Lloyd-Wright or Le Corbusier, the great exponents of reinforced concrete.
In 1844, a British hardware store owner Charles Barnard, introduced the first machine-made fencing mesh.
For this invention he was inspired by the mechanical loom. Shortly after, the French engineer Joseph Louis Lambot used wire mesh to reinforce concrete, building a concrete boat to illustrate the use of mesh reinforcement.
Wire weavers working for Barnard, Bishop and Barnard, Norwich. circa 1910 | The Wire Weaving Machine, Bridewell Museum, Norwich | Joseph Louis Lambot and his concrete boat.
In 1901 the American inventor John C. Perry, patented the method for welding wire mesh, often known as ‘fabric’. Firstly, this was used to reinforce roads and pavements, later serving as reinforcement of concrete floors and walls of buildings made out of concrete.
Even the 102 floors of the Empire State Building, built in 1930, are reinforced with wire mesh and, although the skyscraper is eighty-six years old, and has undergone many renovations, the original reinforced concrete floors still remain unchanged.
The parallel longitudinal wires with accurate spacing welded to cross wires, offer strength and allow the ‘fabric’ to withstand force. This was used to great advantage by the military during the Second World War in Europe, spreading to different corners of the globe soon after, as the popularity of its properties became clear.
As a manufacturer, ECMIL applies and maintains international standards on all of its products, recognizing that each piece of steel it provides to its customers, is mission critical in terms of durability and performance. Whether it be Mild Steel Rods or Corrugated Steel Re-Bars, Specification A98, A142, or A193 welded mesh, each item has its specific purpose and ECMIL’s sales staff are quick to emphasize these details to keep customers on track to success.
In the same way that our frame enables us to execute our required functions, so the anatomy of tied steel of
the appropriate gauge and volume enables a structure to maintain its integrity and perform well.
All too often, poor site preparation, poorly set and uneven, or scant reinforcement are to blame for many concrete cracking and degrading problems, such as deterioration in simple walkways.
The untimely damage in this typical example can be avoided by making sure that there must always be at least 50mm (or 2”) of concrete cover over the steel reinforcement, above, below and around, to avoid untimely degrading. Before casting, ‘chairs’ or supports, should be placed at 600mm (24”) intervals below the ‘fabric’ to stop sagging during the casting process.The combination of sand, stone, cement and water is of considerable weight; enough to bend unsupported steel wire, over a distance and render your casting out of alignment and brittle.
Attention to detail in the preparation of steel supports, large or small, will make all the difference, both when it comes into contact and has to join with other materials and when it has to meet a building budget, which by nature is forever under pressure.
If you are considering or organizing your construction project, I recommend that you speak to the extremely helpful and knowledgeable sales staff at ECMIL. They will guide you through the ordering process of the right volume of quality steel materials, to ensure your ideal reinforcement and success.
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