This section focuses on the construction industry, information for a one man band with a foam generator to a complete automated FC product plant and on site equipment.
Concrete foam service.
This is a business that supplies a foam machine and operator to the construction industry who need FC. This is mainly for void filling. The foaming machine and operator (s) travels to the site and puts the foam into the mixing truck for a specified time to create the desired FC density.
FC product manufacturing
The FC products for the construction industry are
- Modular of various sizes
- Made to order panels.
On site FC
Probably the most cost efficient method to construct FC housing from small to large scale developments.
The FC is made on site, and poured or pumped into the formwork. Depending on the scale of the development, the concrete can also be mixed on site.
There are complete transportable systems on the marked that have a totally automated mixing system.
The advantage of this is that only dry products need to be transported to the site, and is independent of a ready mix supplier. This could be the deciding factor as there is often efficiency loss when you have to wait for the concrete mixer to arrive.
It requires knowledge and skill to operate the mixing plant.
- You may have to satisfy the authorities that you can make the FC to the desired standard.
- Capital requirement to obtain the onsite plant.
- Limited capacity of the onsite mixing plant.
FC Construction business models.
As FC making is reliant on good equipment and raw materials. Foaming agent suppliers often supply the equipment as well. Most of them go a step further and supply the know-how and ensure you can make consistently good FC. Of course you pay for all of this. It has been my lifetime experience that it is more economical to buy knowledge and good equipment than try to make it yourself and learn from your mistakes. The cost may seem prohibitive at the beginning, and may look unreasonably high, but you get what you pay for.
Expand as you go strategy.
The minimum investment is a commercial foam generator. This can vary from $5000 to $30.000 depending on the capacity.
Start up a service to supply foam the construction industry; in your downtime you make FC products.
The most low risk products are ornamental; these can be for architecture, such as building facades pillars etc.
Garden ornaments and sculptures, water features, and blocks for the artists as replacement for stone and marble.
The next step up is blocks for the construction industry. This means of course that you have to supply a guaranteed product. Depending on the regulations in your country this could be a big and expensive hurdle. Block production can vary from getting the ready mix supplied, foam the mortar and pour it in your molds. There are companies that supply the block making system and knowledge. Some of them have a patient on their form or methods.
Building with blocks is one of the oldest forms of construction, it is very versatile and requires little skill, depending in the desired result, it is possible to build your own home this way. The cost saving is mainly in the labor.
FC panel systems.
As the desire to reduce the building costs by labor saving methods, the complexity of the building system increases, and often the required capital for equipment.
Modular panel systems is a method where standard size panels are produced to construct a whole house. The size of the house depends on the number of panels used.
An example of such a system can be found www.shhs.my
This system is nothing new, but the materials used up till now are expensive or heavy. With FC it is possible to have a monolithic wall, where no further finishing is required. Of course most home dwellers would want a nice color or wall paper on the inside. The outside wall may need a moisture sealer, depending on the mix, climate and building regulations.
The knowledge and equipment for this construction method exists already and many countries have building standards to regulate the desired construction standard.
Custom build FC panels is the next step in construction method. This can be very cost effective if more houses of the same design are made.
The advantages of factory made FC panels are.
- The quality of the panels is easier to control in a factory environment than on site.
- The onsite labor cost and construction time is reduced.
- Electrical and other service requirements can be built in the wall panel.
- The FC properties can be custom designed. For example internal wall can have different properties than outside walls.
- Roof and internal flooring can be made out of FC panels as well.
- Form-work (molds) tend to last longer than on-site
Disadvantages of FC panels.
- If a modular system is used, more seams have to be made water proof, and visually hidden or made attractive.
- Connection to the floor and corners ads to the complexity of design.
- Erections of the panels need to be a well organised team effort.
- Depending on the size and construction site a special crane may need to be used.
Block Building system
Below is an example of the possibilities with a block building system for countries that require a high building standard.
There are also block building systems that have interlocking blocks and require no mortar in between.
Example of a successful FC production and construction business
For an overview of what can be done with FC in the construction industries go to:
I am looking forward to receive more information on these subjects from the FC industry, please contribute your knowledge, contact us