The fact that carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) is strong enough to replace bulkier strengthening materials can be a surprise even to some experienced commercial contractors. After all, carbon fibers are only 5 to 10 microns in diameter, a little wider than spider silk.
Intuitively, it doesn’t seem that these tiny fibers could be a major component of a concrete strengthening system several times stronger than mounted steel plates.
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Whether you call it 3D printing, additive manufacturing or contour crafting, the ability to create something — from a small tabletop model to a livable home or towering skyscraper, to list just a few possibilities — out of paper-thin materials is intriguing, and promises to shape the future of our world. So promising is this recent technology, in fact, that manufacturing industries, government entities and educational institutions have made significant investments in 3D-printing technologies. These ventures, particularly those driven by partnerships, are shaping up to have a big impact on the building and construction industry.
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Good news for anyone involved in construction: The industry added 23,000 specialty trade contractor jobs in November 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bad news? Construction employers will likely struggle to fill new positions, as a labor shortage triggered by the 2007–2009 Great Recession continues to dampen more robust growth for the builder economy.
In fact, the number of builders reporting a critical shortage of labor has grown from 21% in 2012 to 46% in 2014, 52% in 2015 and 56% in 2016, says Paul Emrath, who tracks industry economic statistics as the vice president for survey and housing policy research for the National Association of Home Builders.
Continue reading “Laying Foundations: Simpson Strong-Tie Mentoring Future Construction Leaders of America”