In your opinion, what would help expand the use of composites in the construction industry?
Modifying the building code to provide guidance for composites as structural components will ultimately move composites forward in the construction industry. Composites professionals might want to come up with new tests to show that their products are at least equivalent to other materials that are already recognized by the codes.
Where do you see the future for composites in the construction industry?
Composite usage in the construction industry is only restricted by the vision of those involved. Based on the composites presently available and expected future potential, provided the specific application meets the level of protection intended, I can’t think of any necessary limitations. However, due to the lack of composites being recognized for structural aspects in the IBC, moving forward will continue to be a challenge. The code does not disallow composites usage but it doesn’t specifically allow it. If I can show that a composite stud provides the structural ability as wood, or that a composites foundation provides the same structural ability as concrete, why can’t I build a house out of it? It’s not in the code. We must get it in the code!
Are there questions I haven’t asked you that you think our readers should know about the code requirements?
They all need to understand the applications that are being proposed and the specific requirements for those applications. I can’t say that enough. Knowledge is power, especially in this situation. Fabricators, contractors, manufacturers and designers need to be clear about the different fire tests and understand the allowances and limitations when dealing with composites.