Recommendations on the use of steel fibers for structural reinforcement

Concrete is the most widely used construction material worldwide

It is an economical composite of materials that conforms a structure with great capacity to withstand compression without breaking.

However, once this effort has been overcome or a flexural tensile stress is experienced, the material begins to crack and breaks catastrophically due to the lack of ductility.

The method traditionally used to solve the cracking of concrete is by installing a steel mesh.

Steel mesh is a structure formed of steel bars welded together following the profile of the construction surface.

In addition to the installation problems, the entire structure is not reinforced in its whole; the vertices of the structure are fragile elements on impact, forming cracking of the concrete and being exposed to possible corrosion.

Fiber-reinforced concrete (HRF), on the other hand, is one in which short steel fibers are incorporated into its mix, randomly distributed in their mass, in order to improve its mechanical properties

The ease of putting the fibers in place compared to the mesh makes them a quick alternative by allowing them to mix and easily adhere with the concrete matrix

Once the fibers are mixed, the concrete is poured or pumped on site, thus becoming the most economical method since it does not require any specialization to mix and thus reduce the time of putting on site

There are a great variety of references with different geometries and dimensions on the market, which can be used to reinforce concrete structures, to provide an improvement in their mechanical properties or in order to improve their non-mechanical properties

Therefore, fibers can be classified depending on the role they play in concrete as follows:

1.Fibers with a non-structural purpose are those fibers that increase the non-mechanical properties of concrete.

As an example, it has been proven that some polymeric fibers can control the shrinkage that concrete experiences during its curing and, consequently, can control shrinkage cracking by providing flexibility.

In turn, some fibers can increase fire resistance, increasing so the durability of the structure.


2.On the other hand, fibers for structural purposes are those that increase mechanical properties such as traction or compression.

This fibers are distributed homogeneously throughout the concrete structure as they are added during the kneading of the raw materials, thus forming a cementitious paste that is pumped or poured.

Not all fibers can increase the mechanical properties of concrete

The geometric characteristics of the fibers are established according to UNE 83500-1 and UNE 83500-2 standards, and the effectiveness can be assessed using UNE 8510 standard

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