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Precast Concrete Allows For Faster Construction and Increased Quality

Concrete is a building material that is in extensive use in many forms and in combination with many other materials. It is largely made from a mixture of cement, fine and coarse aggregates, and water. The proportions of each of these are defined for any specific use and this can depend on the physical characteristics of the aggregates, and cement and water quality. The proportions are determined by design engineers depending on the final strengths required for the concrete.

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When concrete is first mixed, it is in a liquid and pliable state and takes the form of any receptacle or mold or shuttering into which it is placed. It then sets, taking the shape into which it has been poured and gains its required strength after a time, generally 28 days. Precast concrete products are used in construction as it allows them to be made under controlled conditions in factories or casting yards. This allows greater control over quality and gaining the required strength.

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Precast products will, however, be subjected to the stress of being carried and transported before they are put in to place in the final structure where they are to be used and will be required to perform the functions that are expected from them. This transporting and handling can cause additional stresses in the precast products, which engineers have to cater for. There are definite advantages in using precast products for construction and these include greater strength, durability, and aesthetics. A precast product can be made into any desired shape and this configuration will always be maintained and the use of steel molds allows for standardization of products in shape and size. Other properties like resistance to chemicals and fire can be built in through the use of additives. Precast concrete requires less maintenance and the use of the proper handling equipment makes them safe and easy to install. It is essential that proper care is taken in the placing of lifting hooks or other devices that will be used during installation, as they cause additional stresses in the product, which must be taken into account.

Precast concrete products can be made in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and even colors can be added to the concrete for better aesthetics. Molds that are used as formwork for the precast concrete products are made of steel, fiberglass, rubber, EPDM or other materials which do not deteriorate or change dimensionally after many uses. Formwork is a major cost in use of concrete, and if these costs can be reduced, this can reduce overall construction costs.

Another advantage of the use of precast concrete products is that their production can be started at any time, and does not have to wait for any particular sequence, as will be needed in the conventional method of construction. The concrete in these products will have already gained the required strength and thus it is not necessary to wait for the structure to gain strength as in the case of conventional concrete. This can lead to faster completion times for structures.