History of GRC

Experiments to reinforce concrete with glass fibre were first carried out in the late 1940s at the same time as research to reinforce resins and plastics with the same material.These were unsuccessful due to the alkaline nature of the cement attacking and breaking down the fibres.

The problem was solved in the mid 1960s with the development of alkaline resistant glass fibres containing a high level of zirconium dioxide. As with most modern composites the process of blending the fibres throughout the matrix provided substantially increased tensile, flexural and impact strength. This allowed manufacturers to produce very thin (10-15mm) sections with resultant savings in component weight.

GRC was primarily used as a cladding material however its development coincided with the decline in the UK of this type of construction and a return to more traditional architecture. As a consequence the primary application of the material in the UK was in civil engineering and rail applications.  Throughout the rest of the world GRC became more widely accepted as an expression of architectural design.