SMC Replaces Steel and Concrete in the Building Industry

07 August 2006

Two new products introduced by Mitras Composites have illustrated the potential for SMC in the construction industry as an alternative to traditional materials such as concrete and steel.

The products demonstrate the lightness of SMC compared to both other materials, as well asthe material’s stability and durability. The fibre reinforced SMC (Sheet Moulding Compound) for these applications was developed and supplied by Polynt GmbH (formerly Lonza Compounds), a German SMC manufacturer and one of the founding members of the European Alliance for SMC/BMC.

The first new product is a trench cover for use during streetworks to allow pedestrian and private vehicle access over trenches in pavements and pathways.

The Trench Cover is a slip resistant cover measuring 1195mm x 795 mm, with anchor points in each corner. It is made from glass-reinforced composite material, strengthened by the inclusion of steel mesh reinforcement. The size means it can span a trench with a maximum width of 700mm when laid longitudinally across the trench.

The cover is designed to withstand a maximum vehicle weight of 2000kg, evenly distributed, with a single load per wheel maximum of 500kg. This has been verified by an independent test house showing a safety margin of 4x design load. The materials used in the construction of the trench cover result in minimal deflection at the design load, and a permanent set of zero.

The second new product is a composite access chamber system to allow access to underground systems such as meters, valves, and connections. Traditionally these items have been made from concrete, which require lifting equipment and have strength issues during transportation, or thermoplastics, which require concrete back-up after installation as a result of their flexibility. The system consists of bolt-together panels that form sections that can be stacked to give the desired depth. The panels are available in a selection of lengths and are bolted together in the corners to give a huge range of available sizes. If necessary, the panels can be cut and joined to give any desired size of chamber.

The chambers are delivered to site either in panel form, and then assembled, or as ready made sections which are then stacked together. Because they are made from SMC, the sections are very rigid, so do not need any reinforcement and can be back-filled immediately. The low weight compared with concrete mean that they can be installed by one man without the need for lifting equipment. The sections can be drilled on-site for duct and service entry points. SMC is also increasingly being used for access covers to complement the chambers. The chambers are already in use in Sweden, Denmark and the UK, and are being used in telecommunications and water, gas and electric utility companies.

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