Traditionally, concrete was cast on-site, using rough molds or “forms” that can be used only a few times or (even just once). The concrete is then poured in or on the forms, using heavy concrete delivery trucks and pumps.
Yet in factory conditions, concrete panels can be cast with much more precision.
The concrete can be mixed just-in-time; under perfect conditions, and in smooth molds with vibrator tables so no air bubbles are trapped inside the concrete.
As a result, panels that are cast in factories are smoother, stronger and more precise. They are called “pre”-cast because they are made befóre they are going to the build site.
Transporting pre-cast concrete panels and putting them in place requires heavy transport and cranes. But bear in mind that otherwise the same amount of concrete (plus molds) had to be transported as well.
The factory conditions allow for the concrete panels to be slightly thinner than they would be if produced on site. And insulation material can be sandwiched inside the panels as well, so the panels offer
Pre-cast concrete panels are smart:
- smooth, quality concrete, cast to precise measures
- can be esthetically nice enough to leave unfinished
- can include insulation in one go
- quick to install, a house goes up in one or two weeks
The limitations of pre-cast concrete panels?
- heavy so may require more foundations
- limits to dimensions because of transport and mold limitations
- the insulation is usually sandwiched inside; where ideally it should be on the outside
- the concrete panel exposed to the sun acts as a heat storage
- you’ll need to drill to hang up anything on the walls
- installations (electricity, plumbing) usually have to be added inside an additional inner wall layer (like plasterboard on studs)
- Cost efficiency: ***
- initial cost ***
- lifetime cost ***
- thermal insulation: ****
- sound insulation: ***
- air quality: ***
- embedded energy: ***
- renewable: ***