Depending on your project needs and what you’re trying to achieve, this small variety of blocks makes for a vast variety of uses. Like any other tool, how you use them is key.
The Standard Concrete Block
Hollow concrete blocks are perhaps the most popular of the precast concrete materials. First invented in the 1890’s, they were originally so heavy they had to be lifted into place by a crane. Nowadays they are a staple in construction and their weight is no longer a challenge. Originally made by hand, it would take a person approximately an hour to produce 10, compared to the technology we have today with machines producing up to 2,000 8x8x16 inch blocks per hour. As the pressure increases on the industry for buildings to go up faster and cheaper, quality is becoming an increasingly more important factor as it makes a huge difference when it comes to utilizing these handy building blocks. Each block takes mixing, molding, curing and cubing to be produced, with each stage requiring constant monitoring for quality control. Raw materials should be weighed electronically, the water content in sand and gravel measured with ultrasonic sensors and temperature of water controlled to the fraction of a degree.
Without these controls strictly in place to ensure each block is the exact right measurement and strength a project can turn into an extremely costly disaster. A few millimetres difference in a single block may not seem like a big deal but multiply that by the thousands and you could end up with a much bigger problem.
The need for speed in the industry has allowed technology to advance so that there are now many forms of precast concrete, other than the traditional concrete block and with each, quality is critical. Omnidec is a form of Precast Concrete that allows large areas of flooring and roofing to be erected quickly and safely. Each large precast slab utilizes a triangular lattice girder that is attached to a lower layer of reinforcement. This lattice girder is made from high strength steel wire in order to provide a rigid structure within the panel. This allows it to bind easily with concrete which is poured on site.
Apart from speed and safety, there are many other benefits to this innovative building technology.
● Structural Strength: Can be designed to withstand most loading conditions and cope with rigorous exposure as well as protect against fire for long periods.
● Flexibility in design: One-of-a-kind, irregular and complex shapes can be achieved.
● Cost Effective Solution: Because it removes the need for plywood and boxing, Omnidec as an easy and very cost effective way of preparing a suspended floor slab. For roofing, it allows Soffit to be left exposed saving on additional costs for suspended ceilings.
Interlocking Lego Concrete Blocks
Interlocking Lego Concrete Blocks are the technologically advanced younger cousin to the standard concrete block. One of the newer trends in precast concrete, these playful sounding blocks are designed to be high in strength and are extremely versatile. While offered in set sizing, they are designed to function in a number of applications.
They can be easily used for retaining walls, segregation and silage bays, blast walls, concrete buildings, storage bins and even signage. Depending on the project, it can be a simple case of stacking. However, for heavy duty needs, there are types created with ducts in place for rebar and cement grout reinforcement.
10 Nodule Capping Block 2’x2’x5’
As the name suggests, they are extremely easy to assemble as well as transport and can be reused if and when necessary, making them a cost-effective investment.
The standard concrete block remains an icon in the construction industry as it has only gained value over the years. As new technology evolves, concrete blocks like Omnidec and Interlocking Lego, cater to individual and specific needs of the industry. Time will tell what will come next but for now, it pays to know which block to use when.
Further reads: Concrete: How to achieve strength and durability