Investigation into the properties of thin joint glued brickwork as a prefabricated material and its role in the U.K. construction industry
Over recent years there has been increased awareness within the construction industry of the need to improve the construction process and quality achieved on site. With the number of skilled masons falling rapidly, alternatives to masonry construction are once again receiving attention and the prefabrication of brick elements provides a way of achieving the high quality and standards required along with improved working conditions. A review of recent applications of prefabricated brickwork was carried out looking at favoured construction methods, advantages & disadvantages and its design capabilities. Additional factors needing consideration when using a prefabricated approach were also examined. The review highlighted many areas in need of change within the traditional client/designer/contractor relationship, so other industries successfully using prefabricated components were studied along with companies currently using prefabricated brickwork both in Europe and the UK. Case studies of prefabricated brickwork projects provided an insight into how increased involvement of the suppliers at the design stages of a product can promote efficiency and the creation of innovate techniques and solutions, highlighting, amongst other things, the need for improved communication levels. Thin joint brickwork built with glue mortar has been developed in Europe with increased tensile strength properties that would make it ideal for prefabrication. Tests were performed at Kingston University on the thin joint glued brickwork built using standard U.K. bricks and compared to conventional brickwork data. The thin joint brickwork was tested for flexural, bond and shear strength and in addition, seven wall panels were produced and loaded laterally in order to determine the load and deflection capacity. Overall, the 28-day flexural strength of the thin joint brickwork proved to be stronger in flexure than conventional brickwork. Bond and shear strengths were found to at least match those of conventional masonry and the load capacity of the panels was high with the deflection remaining small. The panels (approx. 1950mm x 2400mm) were also able to withstand lifting and transportation without the need for additional reinforcement.