Balusters are used for design accent with commercial as well as residential buildings for centuries.
AAS GFRC manufacturing technique is able to cast balusters in one piece without any seams. This enables superior design aesthetic while also simplifying the installation of the balusters at the construction site.
The fabrication method uses mold for each side or half of the baluster. The inside of the molds is sprayed with a thin layer of the GFRC mix for the desired finish.
Mold for for casting balusters
Spraying outer layer of GFRC mix for desired look and finish of balusters
Inspection, hand packing using brush for uniform surface finish quality
Inspection, hand packing using brush for uniform surface finish quality
After that the two mold pieces are held together to fill in the GFRC admixture inside. The center of the cylindrical space has 2” wide PVC, so that way the finished GFRC baluster has hollow core in the middle.
GFRC balusters cast in one piece
In a typical installation, threaded rod is passed through the hollow core in the middle. The rod is attached to the steel channel for securing balusters in place. The AAS team is able to custom design the handrail for the balustrade system so that it has groove from inside to conceal the steel channel inside.
The AAS team is able to make project specific molds as required for the custom size and shape of the balusters.
Concrete has captured the imagination of designers for thousands of years offering options and flexibility to mold it in different shapes and surface finishes.
GFRC (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete), also known as lightweight concrete, is able to extend the range of possibilities that can be realized using concrete. It uses the casting flexibility of traditional concrete to create a wide range of shapes and surface finishes difficult to achieve using traditional production methods. GFRC panels are much lighter and much easier to shape and are typically offered with pre-engineered support systems, making easier to install.
The Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) panels can match the color and finishes of virtually any kind of stone products including natural lime stone, dry vibrant-tamp cast stone, wet our precast concrete stone, terracotta stone, etc. GFRC can be integrated with brick veneer or other exterior façade applications that include steel and glass as well.
Architectural detailing needs to be a shared responsibility between the architect, the manufacturer and the manufacturers engineer. An attachment design by the manufacturer, rather than the architect, is often appropriate for many GFRC projects. The shop drawings will provide the architect and installer an opportunity to review the attachment and make the final detailing.
General Rules for attachment
GFRC pieces up to about 4 feet x 6 feet can often be produced without an additional structural back-up. The manufacturer will add a stiffener-rib to the product back side for added support. A stiffener usually runs the height of the piece every 24 to 30 inches of the product and has very concentrated glass fiber to cement mix. The product can be attached via a veneer tie and strap, kerf and clip, or similar attachment to the structure of the building.
Larger pieces or pieces where a stiffener-rib is not appropriate are generally hung with a metal stud back-up. The metal stud system is designed and attached to GFRC piece by the manufacturer as part of the cost of the GFRC on the project. Metal stud back-up is very similar to metal stud framing on most commercial projects, but designed with more precision. The metal stud back-up is usually attached with a grade #2 bolt to the structure of the building. There are occasions where the metal stud framing is welded to the structure. Again the specifications on the welding should follow AWS standards.
Very large pieces (larger than 8 feet x 20 feet) will have tube steel back-up. The process is much the same as with metal studs discussed above. This back-up will be engineered by the manufacturer.
AAS is able to provide type of connection that is preferred by customer. GFRC provides flexibility with selection of the connection type.
Once the connections are selected, the AAS manufacturing and design process is able to pre-engineer the connections support in the products.
GFRC is much simpler and less expensive to install compared to other much heavier stone products. GFRC installation doesn’t require extensive support structure and heavy construction equipment at the project site.
AAS GFRC products provide flexibility to select/use right application of caulk or sealants making it easier for masonry contractors not only in their installation process, but also with long term reliability of the installed projects.
This blog post shows design assist process, as well as custom fabrication of the large size GFRC panels for the Dickies Arena project. The Arena is sited on the Will Roger’s Memorial Center campus in Ft. Worth, TX.
Custom GFRC Panels Design, Fabrication
The architects for the project aim to develop Art Deco design elements on facades of the arena to match with the 1930s era experience on the campus. The building facade design uses large size GFRC panels with intricate design details in them.
The AAS team developed series of custom molds to match the large size and intricate design details required for the project.
The mockups are created to confirm the shapes, details in the fabricated stone panels and color matching.
AAS works closely with architects and contractors to review details and confirm design feasibility.
AAS has capabilities now to manufacture GFRC products in its Ft. Worth plant as well.
Art, Engineering, Design Craftsmanship, Technology for Custom Mold with Specific Design Pattern
Refining Specific Details in the Mold using the Personalized Design Touch after CNC Machining
Custom Designed Mold to Match Specific GFRC Panel Size and Shape with Stringent Tolerance requirements
GFRC Art Panels for Art Deco Design Accent at Dickies Arena, Fort Worth
Image below shows exterior elevation on the west side with GFRC panels integrated with the brick veneer.
Fort Worth Arena Partial Elevation – West Side | GFRC Panels Integrated in Exterior Veneer of the Building Along with Brick Veneer
This project also show how cast stone and GFRC can be combined with seamless color matching opening up opportunities for simplified construction, value engineering, and at the same time unparalleled design freedom.
GFRC products have pre-engineered, built in connections that simplifies the onsite installation.
See in this video, examples of drawings and images of products being installed at the SMU Delta Gamma Sorority House project.
AAS has bandwidth and a well developed system to work closely with architects, contractors and masons for every project. Installation support details are designed with intent of not only realizing architect’s desired design vision, but also simple, easy installation.
As required, project team works with customers in selecting combination of products that would achieve design cost effectively.
The architectural design of the new Sorority House building at SMU uses fluted columns for a unique accent. AAS team worked with the architect and contractor to come up with an answer of using architectural GFRC product for this. See the manufacturing process in these video clips.
Step One: Designing and Creating Custom Molds
AAS used CNC technology and craftsmanship to design the fluted column using modular molds that would create different components of the column – the base, tapered column split over parts, and uniquely sculpted Corinthian capital.
See the molds in this video…
Molds are lined up in the plant to begin the GFRC casting process…
Step Two: GFRC Casting Process – Applying Face Mix and Spraying, Packing Back up Mix
See in these video clips application of the face mix and back up mix.
Smooth layer of face mix applied …
Back up mix is sprayed and packed …
Step Three: GFRC Casting Process – Thickening the Edges