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Posts tagged ‘Molding and Casting’

Six Benefits of Precast Concrete Products

Posted on: May 18th, 2020 by Marc

Six Benefits of Precast Concrete Products

precast concrete

The construction industry is becoming increasingly reliant on precast concrete products. According to Verified Market Research, the precast concrete market “is projected to reach $178.75 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 5.56% from 2021 to 2028.” This growth is expected to occur from rapid urbanization and industrialization, increasing investment in new construction projects, and infrastructure development.

Precast concrete is a form of concrete that is cast in a well-controlled environment or precast plant. This means the concrete is cast and cured before it is transported to the work site for installation. The concrete mix varies based on desired strength, colors, and performance features. If additional strength is required of the concrete structure, it can be reinforced by adding rebar or steel cable.

Typically, the concrete is cast into flexible, reusable molds or forms. Urethane rubber molds are highly customizable precast concrete products. The rubber comes in different hardnesses with various pot life options based on your processing needs. A wide variety of architectural and structural elements can be made with this material, including stone veneer, panels, hardscape, stamped concrete, and more.

Why Use Urethane Rubber for Precast Projects

1. Versatility

When urethane rubber is used, you can replicate concrete pieces of virtually any size, shape, or detail to fit your project requirements. It can be used in the field or in a factory setting. The molds are not limited in their design as they can be made with various curves, bends, angles, and odd designs. They also offer a variety of textures and finishes to choose from.

Making custom forms allows even the largest-scale construction projects to have unique elements. From schools and hospitals to bridges and parking garages, there’s almost no precast structure that urethane can’t be used for. These molds and form liners are great for architectural concrete, cast stone, highway barriers, retaining walls, and more.

2. Aesthetics

Precast concrete can be more than just functional; it can also be desired for its increased decorative purposes. Urethane molds and forms have been used to produce precast concrete for some of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings and structures. When the molds are made, they copy the intricate details and designs of a master and transfer those details to the concrete. The concrete can easily mimic the look of historical stone or brick for a fraction of the cost.

Other molds made from plastics, wood, or metals can’t offer the same elaborate patterns as urethane. If you’re looking for intricate and noticeable designs, the rubber will provide the high level of precision and advanced detail you desire.

3. Repeatability

Urethane forms are considered some of the finest and most durable products on the market. Their durability allows them to be used over and over to create copies of the same design, ensuring consistency in your precast concrete project.
These reusable molds can produce up to 100 castings before they lose detail and strength. High reusability and repeatability also mean you get the same level of detail in each cast until the mold needs to be replaced.

Concrete molds made of wood or plastics only get between 1-10 uses. While steel molds can produce more, they are limited in the designs that can be created. It is also cost-prohibitive to produce or to have more than one of them.

4. Cost-effective

Casting concrete in urethane molds is much more cost-effective than using natural building materials such as stone, brick, and other masonry. Since it is such a durable, long-lasting material, you save money by not having to replace your molds as much.

Urethane forms are also compatible with high-end applications, so you can make durable concrete that withstands impact, corrosion, and acid attack. Not only do your molds last a long time, so do your concrete structures.

5. Quality Control

Depending on the type of urethane rubber chosen, the material can be time and environmentally sensitive, which means it must be poured and cured under specific conditions. Because the precast process is done in a well-controlled environment, it’s the perfect place to use urethane.

Quality assurance technicians are able to assess the entire process, from making the molds to mixing, pouring, and demolding the concrete. Since the precast concrete products are tested and reviewed during each step, you’re left with superior quality and a more consistent product. In this setting, the concrete is also allowed to strengthen before it is transported to the work site.

6. Convenience

Since the forms and molds don’t need to be set up on-site, precast concrete reduces construction time and lowers labor costs as well. Molding concrete off-site also reduces the equipment and labor needed on-site. Workers can carry out other projects while the concrete is made to prevent construction delays.

VFI Urethane Rubber

VFI has noticed an increased demand for precast concrete products and offers our 2100 and 3100 series of polyurethane rubbers. These rubbers have been used in the creation of cast stone, manufactured stone, formliners, stamps, and more for the concrete construction industry. Request more information by contacting VFI today.

Determining Shore Hardness of Rubbers & Plastics

Posted on: May 18th, 2020 by Marc

Shore Hardness is the resistance a material has to indentation. Determining a materials Shore Hardness requires the use of a durometer, which is a device that measures the depth of an indentation in the material by creating force through a presser foot.

In order for people to have a point of reference on how hard a material is different shore hardness scales have been created. There are 12 different Shore Hardness scales depending on the type of material that is being measured.

When dealing with rubbers and plastics two scales are used. The A Shore Hardness scale is used to measure flexible rubbers commonly used in molds. Hard rubbers, semi-rigid plastics and hard plastics are measured using the D Shore Hardness Scale.

Both of these scales have ranges from 0-100. The lower the Shore Hardness is on the scale the softer and more flexible the material will be. As you increase upwards on the scale materials become stiffer and less flexible.

When selecting a rubber or plastic to use for your mold making needs there are a couple of things that should be taken into consideration.

How delicate is the item that you’re molding. 

If you’re making a mold of an item that has sharp undercuts, thin parts or protrusions it is recommended to use a material that provides greater flexibility and stretches easily. This will insure that you’re able to extract your model from the mold without it breaking.

How much detail is needed for your project.

When using rubbers and plastics detail is directly related to the hardness of the material that you’re using. The harder a material is the greater casting detail it will provide. For example, if you were making a mold for a stone back splash you would want to use a harder material to pick up textural detail within the rocks.

Abrasion Resistance

Abrasion resistance refers to a materials ability to withstand any method of wearing down or rubbing away by means of friction. This point should be taken into consideration if you are planning to use a rubber or plastic mold for construction applications. Some of these application would include architectural precast concrete, cast veneer and flexible form liners. In construction applications you want your material to provide enough flexibility, while being durable and insuring a long useful life.

Have an upcoming project? Have questions or need assistance selecting the right material for your job? Give us a call at 800-307-9218. Our team of technical experts and sales representatives are happy to help!

Different Types of Concrete Stamps Require Different Materials

Posted on: May 18th, 2020 by Marc

Concrete stamps can take a basic concrete project and bring it to the next level. These stamps are used to enhance a surface and make it look decorative by providing a textured detail imitating stone, brick, wood and much more. They are most often used to create decorative walkways, courtyards, patios, decks and on decorative vertical concrete applications.

Most stamps are made out of urethane rubbers as this material provides a range of Shore Hardness options, while remaining flexible and providing maximum abrasion resistance.

Producing stamps can be expensive, that’s why it’s important to understand how to pick the correct rubber for your needs. Stamps come in numerous types and flexibilities ranging from floppy to rigid. Three common types of stamps are stamp rollers, texturing skins and concrete mats.

Stamp rollers are used as imprinting tools on large scale projects, on slab corners and boarders where detail is not as critical. These stamps are popular with contractors because of their ease of use and can cover a lot of ground quickly.

It’s important to have an understanding of what to look for in regards to the type of rubber your stamp roller is made out of. Rollers work best when the concrete is still very soft. Because of the roller application, a harder durometer rubber is needed to imprint detail quickly. VFI would recommend our 3170 or 3180, for this application. This will help to insure maximum detail will be transferred to your project’s surface.

Texturing skins are used in vertical and decorative applications where flexibility would be necessary. These stamps are usually thin to reduce weight and make them more maneuverable on the job-site. Semi-rigid rubbers are used to allow the stamp to be more pliable and capture the curvature of a structure. These skins work best on surfaces with undulations, sloped areas and in flare ups like driveway aprons. VFI-3150 and 3160 provide the perfect amount of flexibility for challenging applications while still providing great casting detail.

Concrete mats are rigid and extremely firm. These mats are very large, and most of the time will have handles to help contractors lift and move them into place. The rigidity of concrete mats will help to leave a highly detailed impression. The polyurethane used in these stamps will range from a Shore A Hardness of 80 or higher (VFI-3180). Interested in making your own concrete stamps? VFI has Technical Service Representatives willing to answer all of your stamping questions. Contact the VFI team at 1-800-307-9218.

At VFI we offer solutions to all your project needs. With a talented onsite lab staff, we can customize our products to suit your application requirements. Contact us today to learn more about our custom solutions!