How can I design a concrete sheet

Inflatable Concrete - Concrete Cloth

A material is getting a new face: Concrete cloths are easy to transport, freely malleable and yet retain their structural strength.

Author Christiane Sauer

A building made of concrete that only needs water and air to be erected and can be erected by two people within an hour ... that sounds unbelievable at first, but it is now possible thanks to a new material technology. As is so often the case, this innovation comes from the field of military research - an environment in which low weight, easy handling and time-saving construction of structures play a major role. Textile structures such as tents, for example, are well suited for this and are widely used.

Concrete Cloth consists of a three-dimensional fiber matrix mixed with dry concrete

A new material - Concrete Cloth - has recently been developed in England that combines the ease of transport and flexibility of a textile with the structural strength of concrete. The background for this development was to improve conventional fabric tents in terms of security. Concrete Cloth consists of a three-dimensional fiber matrix mixed with dry concrete. There is also a hydrophilic fiber layer on the outside, which supports the moisture in the fabric.

After hardening, the concrete cloth forms a pressure-resistant membrane

The material can be watered by spraying the surface with water or by completely immersing it. Once saturated, the material remains flexible for 2 hours, is 80 percent of its final strength after 24 hours and forms a pressure-resistant membrane. The material has good formability and can also assume complex and even double-curved geometries.

The fiber reinforcement prevents cracking, so that the material is very weather-resistant. The back of the concrete sheet is provided with a PVC coating; this ensures that the material is completely watertight.

Material is suitable for emergency shelters

The 'Concrete Canvas Shelter' is a prefabricated structure that can be set up as emergency shelter or simple housing. It has the advantage over conventional tents that it forms a stable, hardened cover from day one, which offers protection against external influences but also - in a military context - against fire. The construction is designed in such a way that it can also be loaded with sand, filler material or earth, i.e. it can also be filled in for increased protection or for insulation purposes.

The construction is very quick and easy: The concrete sheet is transported and delivered in wooden boxes. A simple electric blower is used to inflate the plastic inner membrane and thus to lift the entire structure. The material is then sprayed with water - even sea water is suitable for this if fresh water is not available. After soaking, Concrete Cloth dries out in the form of the inflated inner lining and is ready for use. The hardened material is easy to work with, and openings for installations or windows can be cut out of the surface afterwards.

Modules can be combined to form larger units

The inflatable concrete huts are available in sizes of 25 m² or 54 m² and they can also be combined as modules to form larger units. Due to the mineral matrix, the structures are non-flammable and UV-resistant.

Many applications can also be imagined for architecture or design, such as cladding for facades or freely malleable furniture objects. The material does not have to be blown up into a shape, but can also be freely draped or placed in a negative mold before it hardens. In any case, the material concrete gets a new face with this innovation, it is easily transportable, freely malleable and yet retains its structural strength.


Concrete Canvas Ltd., Unit 3, Block A22, Treforest Ind. Estate CF37, 5SP, UK

Further material developments and applications can be found here