Evolution of industrial floors – a history of Dramix® steel fibers
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Concrete reinforcement plays a crucial role in enhancing the strength and durability of structures. Industrial floors made of concrete have evolved significantly over the years, with new technologies and materials being introduced to improve their strength, durability, and performance.

One such innovation is the Dramix® series of steel fibers, which have evolved from 3D to 4D and 5D configurations. In this article, we will discuss the evolution of concrete industrial floors, including the transition from traditional reinforcement methods such as rebar and mesh to using Dramix® steel fibers.

Traditional Reinforcement Methods

Industrial floors have been reinforced with traditional materials such as rebar and mesh. Rebar, also known as reinforcing steel, is a steel bar or mesh of steel wires that is used as a tension device in reinforced concrete and masonry structures. Mesh reinforcement, on the other hand, is a welded wire fabric made of steel wire that is used to reinforce concrete slabs.

Although these traditional methods were effective, they have some limitations. For instance, placing and spacing of rebar and mesh required skilled labor, and the process is time-consuming. Additionally, rebar and mesh reinforcement could cause issues with cracking, which can lead to structural damage over time.


Introduction of Steel Fibers

To address the limitations of traditional reinforcement methods, steel fibers were introduced as an alternative. Steel fibers are small, thin, and long pieces of steel that are added to concrete mixtures to improve its mechanical properties, such as tensile strength, durability, and impact resistance.

The use of steel fibers in concrete has several advantages over traditional reinforcement methods:

  1. 1. Steel fibers can be easily mixed with the concrete, which eliminates the need for skilled labor to install them.
  1. 2. Steel fibers provide improved crack control, reducing the risk of damage to the structure.
  1. 3. Steel fibers can improve the fatigue resistance of concrete, which is particularly important in industrial settings where heavy machinery is in use.
  1. 4. Steel fibers can reduce concrete slab thickness. Therefore, using less concrete, less steel and less water.


Evolution of Steel Fiber Reinforced Concrete? 

Steel fiber reinforced concrete (SFRC) has become a widely used material in the construction industry, particularly for industrial flooring and infrastructure projects. The use of steel fibers in concrete has significantly improved the mechanical properties of the material, making it stronger, more durable, and more resistant to cracking. 


Early Development of Steel Fibers

The development of steel fibers for concrete reinforcement can be traced back to the mid-19th century when steel wool was used to reinforce concrete. However, the steel wool was not an ideal reinforcement material since it rusted quickly and caused the concrete to deteriorate.

In the 1960s, a new type of steel fiber was developed by Glued Steel Fiber Company, which was made by cutting steel wire into short pieces and then gluing them together. This type of steel fiber was effective at improving the mechanical properties of concrete, but it was expensive and difficult to manufacture.


Enter Dramix® Steel Fibers

We developed Dramix® steel fibers in the 1970s as a replacement for traditional steel reinforcement in concrete structures. The fibers are made of high-strength steel wire, which is drawn, cut, and then collated into bundles. These bundles are then mixed into the concrete to provide additional strength and durability.

Dramix® steel fibers have several advantages over traditional steel reinforcement, including better crack control, improved impact resistance, and reduced construction time and costs. They are also more environmentally friendly, as they require less energy and resources to produce than traditional steel reinforcement.

Dramix® 3D marked the beginning of a new era in concrete reinforcement for industrial floors when it was introduced in the 1970s. The concept behind Dramix® 3D was to create a three-dimensional network of steel fibers within the concrete matrix. These fibers were designed with a hooked-end shape to provide optimal bonding with the concrete.

The inclusion of Dramix® 3D steel fibers in industrial concrete floors offered numerous advantages. It significantly enhanced the crack resistance and toughness of concrete. Additionally, the use of Dramix® 3D eliminated the need for traditional reinforcement methods such as rebar and mesh, simplifying construction processes and saving time and labor costs.

In 1974, we introduced glued steel fibers, to avoid fiber balling and ensure that they are evenly spread throughout the concrete. An environmental friendly zinc coating on Dramix® fibers was introduced in 2004.[LC1]

Dramix® 3D fibers are widely used in saw cut floors which are lightly trafficked, bulk-storage warehouses, production halls, distribution centers and bonded overlays.


Dramix® 4D: Advancing Performance

Dramix® 4D was released in 2010 [LC1] and took the concept of three-dimensional reinforcement a step further by incorporating deformed sections along the length of the fibers. These deformations provided additional mechanical interlock and improved load transfer within the concrete matrix.

With Dramix® 4D, the performance of reinforced concrete was further enhanced. It offered increased ductility, improved crack control, and higher tensile strength. The optimized design of Dramix® 4D fibers ensured superior bond characteristics, resulting in enhanced structural integrity.

The introduction of Dramix® 4D expanded the applications of steel fiber reinforced concrete (SFRC) to a wider range of demanding projects including seamless liquid-tight and coated floors, highly trafficked distribution centers, port pavements, cold-storage rooms, and underground parking lots.


Dramix® 5D: Pushing Boundaries

Dramix® 5D was released in 2015 [LC1] and it’s the latest evolution in our steel fiber design and performance. It combines the features of Dramix® 4D with an innovative 5D configuration, incorporating additional deformations on the surface of the fibers.

The unique design of Dramix® 5D steel fibers offers improved bonding with the concrete matrix, resulting in even higher tensile strength and crack control compared to its predecessors. The increased surface area provided by the additional deformations enhances the bond between the fibers and the surrounding concrete, further reinforcing the structural integrity of SFRC.

Dramix® 5D has been specifically engineered to tackle the high demands of structural floors such as ASRS mat slabs, raft foundations and floors on piles. Dramix® 5D is used in-leu of mesh or any other traditional reinforcement method.

The Dramix® 5D series has been designed to withstand the downward, uplift, and even the seismic forces structures are subjected to. It offers enhanced durability, excellent fatigue resistance, and superior performance under dynamic loading conditions.


Beyond the Concrete Horizon

The evolution of concrete industrial floors has come a long way, from traditional reinforcement methods such as rebar and mesh to using steel fibers. The use of steel fibers in concrete has provided several advantages over traditional reinforcement methods, including improved crack control, reduced labor costs, and improved mechanical properties.

Today, Dramix® steel fibers are widely used in a variety of concrete applications, including industrial floors, precast concrete elements, and tunnel linings. They are also used in residential construction for foundations, walls, and slabs.