Italian precasters are turning to steel fiber solutions, such as Dramix® 3D, to replace traditional steel mesh in bathroom cabin construction. This change reduces steel and concrete usage, improves durability, and enhances water-tightness. Bekaert's technical expertise helped streamline the process and increase production capacity by 8%, while also cutting carbon emissions by 5% and lowering costs for customers by 5-10%.
Italian precasters are committed to decarbonize its manufacturing processes. To reach this goal, one of them contacted Bekaert to look into the possibility of replacing steel mesh reinforcement with steel fibers. This would reduce both the amount of steel and concrete needed per cabin, with environmental benefits. High durability under load conditions and water-tightness of the concrete bathroom cabins was also absolutely critical. The walls and floors should prevent damp entering the cabin from the surrounding ground, while preventing any water or sewage leakage through the cabin floor into the ground.
Bekaert’s technical experts worked closely with their counterparts in the company, who previously only had experience working with plastic fibers. Bekaert provided design support, Dramix® 3D steel fiber dosage instructions, and assistance through a full-size test case. In addition, they provided support for the grouting process. The cabins sometimes incorporated pipes embedded in the grouting. This led to problems when steel mesh was the reinforcement, because the mesh had to be cut and tied, which was a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. The use of steel fiber reinforcement totally removed the need for mesh, and greatly simplified and accelerated the process of incorporating pipes in the grouting. As a result, the company was able to increase production capacity of bathroom cabins by 8% without increasing the labor force. Furthermore, the use of Dramix® steel fibers allowed (when possible) the thickness of concrete to be reduced. By eliminating steel mesh and using less concrete, carbon emissions in the manufacture of the cabins were reduced by 5%. At the same time, customers could benefit from reductions in the Total Cost of Ownership of 5-10%.