Carbon Fiber Structural Reinforcement Systems
Carbon fiber reinforcement technology is relatively new in the United States, although it has been used in Europe for several years. This technology is designed to strengthen existing concrete, masonry and timber structures. The carbon fiber reinforcement is supplemental to that of the existing structural members. Its common forms are as a pultruded laminate, pultruded rod and a unidirectional fabric. The carbon fiber elements are bonded onto the existing structure using high-strength epoxy adhesives.
Applications where carbon fiber reinforcement can be used are:
- To increase load capacities.
- To strengthen damaged structural components.
- To compensate for construction or design defects.
- To allow modification or removal of existing structural elements such as columns, walls & slabs.
- Seismic strengthening of columns & walls.
Many traditional reinforcement methods involve the addition of supplemental columns, beams, pilasters or other elements. These reinforcements can impact both the aesthetic and use patterns of the areas in which they are installed.
Carbon fiber reinforcements have several distinct advantages over traditional types of reinforcement. Listed below are some of its advantages:
- Alkali resistant
- Easy to handle and install
- Low aesthetic impact
- Flexible and can be wrapped around complex shapes
- Acid resistant
- Very high-strength & high modulus of elasticity
- Outstanding fatigue resistance
It must be noted, that carbon fiber reinforcement is not a “one product cure all”. In some cases, traditional reinforcing methods may be more appropriate.
It is always preferred to have a structural engineer design any reinforcing system, this includes the use of carbon fiber components. We work closely with Sika Corporation, the manufacturer of Sika CarboDur & SikaWrap Hex products, and with local engineering firms to assess the use and design of carbon fiber reinforcement applications.
Compass Contracting is a certified applicator for Sika’s carbon fiber product line. We were the first contractor in the United States to install CarboDur bents, which were specifically designed and fabricated in Switzerland for a project in Norfolk, Virginia.
If you would like more information on carbon fiber reinforcement or have a specific need you would like to discuss, please give us a call.