Tough, long-lasting construction materials such as concrete and steel have consistently been the standard for the industry. However, newer materials, including many types of composites, are becoming more popular for use in construction projects.
The Next Wave of Construction Materials
In an article on the website Construction Dive, reporter Kim Slowey reports on the increasing use of composites and how they could dramatically change what kinds of materials are used in and the way buildings are constructed.
Composite materials, including fiberglass, structural plastics and carbon fiber, have the potential to revolutionize the construction industry and the way buildings are put together, noted architect Greg Lynn, quoted in Slowey’s article.
Lynn reported that composites and the strong, fast-drying adhesives used to put them together could be used in many applications where steel and concrete have traditionally been used.
Probably the most dramatic application, according to Lynn, would be using composites and adhesives in the construction of high-rise buildings and skyscrapers. Many types of composites are significantly cheaper than traditional building materials. At the same time, composites can provide equal or greater strength while also being lighter and easier to handle.
Composite construction of skyscrapers, Lynn stated in the article, would result in buildings that could better withstand the stresses of an earthquake by reducing building movement. Composite and adhesive construction is also less costly than traditional building methods.
Slowey noted that another type of new sustainable construction material, cross-laminated timber (CLT), is also gaining popularity for use in building high-rise structures.
Understandably, the use of these materials has not yet become widespread. Overcoming perceptions about composite construction will be a major hurdle for its advocates. For example, tenants may not be eager to occupy space in what they perceive as a “glued together” skyscraper. Anything less than standard concrete and steel may be seen as inferior or unsafe.
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