With the decreasing number of masons, contractors are open to new approaches to building masonry structures that can increase jobsite efficiency. This may be especially true for concrete masonry. Competing on projects with small footprints can be difficult.
An Ohio inventor has dedicated almost a decade developing a new approach to masonry construction he believes will streamline the process. Bruce Lung received his patent for the new system, block.solutions, in 2012. And for the last few years he has been refining the casting process at a workshop near Toledo. He believes that the system is ready for the next step: working with interested concrete producers who want to enter the wall market.
Using several decades of construction industry experiences as a guide, Lung strongly believes a new approach to above-grade construction may present an opportunity to create more resilient and durable structures. The next step after receiving his patent is to recruit producers who want to expand their product offerings.
What makes this system different from designs using concrete masonry or insulating concrete forms is the size of the unit. Lung believes using a larger unit size is beneficial, so he designed block.solution’s basic unit dimensions to be 60x20x15.5 inches. This is much larger than a traditional C-90 unit. In some respects, the design reflects the stone structures of Europe, but with a modern twist.
The plant-produced unit is composed of two panels joined together with piping and reinforcing during casting. The panels are reinforced with mesh and rebar. The units are all cast to the same height, but could be shortened in length.
Once cured, the open-cavity units are transported to the jobsite. Workers use a crane to set the segments on rising courses. A thin-set mortar could be placed between each course to help level the sightline and to decrease the chance for moisture infiltration. The units are designed so that the exterior faces are flush and plumb. Once the units are set, workers pump in grout or concrete into the unit’s cavity to create a structural wall.
The unit-walls can be reinforced and insulated to meet local design and energy code requirements. The design allows for the insulation to be placed on the inside walls.
Lung says his system allows architects to create aesthetically pleasing structures. The exposed unit surfaces can be architecturally treated with formliners during casting and colored using integral coloring. Or after installation, applicators can stain, paint, or even polish the surfaces.
The inventor believes that the new system answers the residential and commercial industry’s call for more resilient structures.
Rick Yelton is editor at large at World of Concrete-Informa Exhibitions and is the former editor in chief of TCP. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.