Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composites or advanced composite materials were first used in the civil engineering during the late 1960s to build composite buildings. The construction industry at that time was of the opinion that composite materials should be used as concrete reinforcement. However, it was not until the mid-1980s when the structural design engineers and researchers throughout the world put efforts to investigate the practical use of FRP composites and its variants such as GFRP in building concrete members.
The construction industry was familiar with the unique characteristics of FRP materials, such as high strength and corrosion resistance at the time when they started exploring the potential applications of FRPs in the construction or rehabilitation of concrete structures. However, the high initial cost was really a drawback. In the late 1980s, FRP composites witnessed a breakthrough when they were used in the field of flexural, seismic retrofitting, and shear strengthening of deteriorated concrete structures. Despite the promising results, composite materials are still struggling to fully accepted by all areas of the civil engineering industry.
In the seismic retrofitting and rehabilitation area of civil engineering, the cost to implement composite materials is only a relatively small percentage of the overall cost. FRP materials are inherently lightweight making it possible to undertake fast on-site fabrication which reduces production costs. Its low weight offers an economic benefit in reducing closure period of roads and erection time.
Following the rising need for sustainable and environmentally friendly construction materials, The structural engineers now paying attention to mechanical and in-service properties of FRP and its components. The manufacturing techniques and long-term loading characteristics of FRP have been the point of discussion in civil engineering circles. Looking at the future, and considering the unique qualities, composite materials are likely to play a key role in building sustainable concrete infrastructure.
Undoubtedly, composite materials have become a key component of the construction industry because of their durability, high strength-to-weight ratio, accelerated construction, low life-cycle costs, and superior resistance to corrosion and fatigue. The scope of FRP materials is also expanding in terms of civil infrastructure applications. The civil applications of composites include bridge decks, seawalls, runways, bridge strengthening and repair. Composites are also valuable material when it comes to seismic retrofitting and building marine waterfront structures.
Being a contractor or structural engineer, you should explore FRP and its components such as GFRP fiberglass rebar. These materials can really help construction industry construct maintenance-free concrete members with a lifespan of 100 years.