Glass fibre reinforced gypsum (GFRG) panel or Rapid wall is a modern building element devised by the GFRG Building System Australia for mass-scale construction of houses in a very short span of time. A GFRG panel is basically calcined gypsum plaster, reinforced with glass fibres which when filled with reinforced concrete in an appropriate proportion becomes strong enough to act as a load bearing and shear wall.
GFRG panels can even resist the lateral loads due to earthquakes and wind. Not only the walls, but the roofs, floors, sunshades and the boundary walls can be also made using GFRG panels. Looking at its success and innumerable advantages, the technology spread like wildfire and is being adopted heavily throughout the construction industry.
GFRG panels are originally white in (due to gypsum) and have a smooth finished surface. They can be whitewashed or painted without cement plastering the walls, therefore, providing some scope of creativity for the client.
The typical dimension of a GFRG building panel is 12 x 3 x 0.127m which weighs around 1.6 tons. It is provided with 4 cavities within 1 meter of the panel.
- Manufacture and Transportation of GFRG Panels
- Applications of GFRG Panels
- Construction with GFRG Panels
- Advantages of Using GFRG Panels
- 1) Quicker Construction
- 2) Economical
- 3) Fire Resistant
- 4) Earthquake Resistant
- 5) Cooler than a Conventional building
- 6) Strength and Durability
- 7) Water Resistant
- 8) More Carpet Area
- Limitations of GFRG Panels
Manufacture and Transportation of GFRG Panels
- The manufacture of GFRG panels is done in a semi-automatic plant using the slurry obtained by heating the calcined raw gypsum.
- The Calcined raw gypsum(plaster) is mixed with water, white cement and certain chemicals like D50(retarder) and BS94(water repellant) in a mixer.
- Different layers of slurries are then spread over a table and are interspersed with glass fibres and plugs (for creating hollow cavities).
- After half an hour or so, the plugs are removed and the panels are sent to a dryer.
GFRG panels can be easily transported from to site via trucks or trailers. It must be ensured that the panels are put in a vertical position (using stillages) to avoid any damage during transportation.
Applications of GFRG Panels
- As a light-weight bearing wall
- As high-capacity vertical and shear load bearing wall
- As partition wall
- As roof slabs/horizontal floor
- As compound wall/Security wall
- As pitched roofing
- As cladding in industrial structures
Construction with GFRG Panels
- The construction process up to the plinth level remains similar as in the conventional method. No special foundation is required for the installation of GFRG panels.
- Concrete belts are built at the plinth area with protruding iron rods which are meant to strengthen the interlocking with the cells of the panel.
- GFRG panels are placed at the appropriate positions using mechanical means, preferably a crane, and external supports are provided to maintain the verticality. Necessary cuts for doors, windows, sanitary fittings, vents etc. are made as per the design.
- The hollow cavities are filled with concrete and reinforcement as per the requirement to strengthen the panels. Generally, concrete is filled in every third cavity of the panel and the remaining cavities can be filled with waste materials like quarry dust.
- Finally, waterproofing treatment is carried out for the roofs and floors of the building.
Advantages of Using GFRG Panels
1) Quicker Construction
Conventional buildings with G+1 that are usually constructed in a span of 6-8 months can be constructed in a month with GFRG panels.
GFRG reduces the consumption of cement by almost 50%, steel by 35% and sand by an astonishing 76%.
3) Fire Resistant
In an event of fire, GFRG panels release 15-20% moisture of its own weight which largely reduces the surface temperature and fire damage.
4) Earthquake Resistant
GFRG panels have been found to be successful at resisting the impacts of earthquakes in the fifth seismic zone as their panels can be turned into shear walls as well.
5) Cooler than a Conventional building
When compared with the conventional building materials, GFRG panels can keep your building cooler by up to 4 degrees.
6) Strength and Durability
The strength and durability of GFRG panels five times that of the conventional construction materials. Besides, gypsum is known for its strength and offers excellent dimensional stability and durability.
7) Water Resistant
Certain chemicals are added to the mix during the manufacture of GFRG panels which make them impervious to the attack of water.
8) More Carpet Area
Since the thickness of the walls made with GFRG panels is less (5 inches) when compared with the conventional walls (9 inches), a greater carpet area is accessible in a GFRG building.
Limitations of GFRG Panels
- The panels are required to be handled with extreme care and specific machinery is needed for their movements.
- The panels cannot be used for wall with circular or higher curvature.
- The panels need to be neatly stacked in order to avoid abrasion.
- The clear span is limited to 5m for residential buildings.
Construction projects are bound by time constraints. It is up to the contractor to innovate and come up with new material designs to overcome this restriction while staying true to the specifications of the plans. GFRG system has proved to very effective in all the aspects of construction especially in time and cost.