Pigmented concrete breathes new life into building material

26 November 2014

The challenge for the modern construction industry is that urban planners, architects and contractors now have a wider range of building materials to choose from. “The use of pigmented or coloured concrete has the definite advantage of positioning concrete as an aesthetically pleasing and modern building material,” Hannes Engelbrecht, General Manager: Marketing, Chryso Southern Africa, says.

“In addition, our wide reference base showcases the versatility of pigmented or coloured concrete in an increasingly diverse range of applications,” Engelbrecht comments. “While the use of pigmented concrete in this regard is still in its infancy, we are finding that contractors, architects and consultants are showing an increasing interest as well as coming up with more and more novel applications.”

Chryso Southern Africa is the sole distributor of Lanxess inorganic iron oxide Bayferrox® pigments for the construction industry in Southern Africa. This German company is a global manufacturer and distributor of inorganic pigments. These are all UV-stable and comply with EN 878 (the use of pigments for colouring building materials) and ASTM C 979 (pigments for integrally coloured concrete). Chryso Southern Africa supplies all the major readymix manufacturers such as AfriSam and Lafarge.

From a sustainability point of view, Engelbrecht points out that Bayferrox® pigments are produced in Germany using modern processes that reduce the environmental impact. “These pigments are neither toxic nor an irritant to the skin or mucous membranes,” he adds. Another critical factor is consistency of the pigments produced, which Lanxess prides itself on. “This means that there are no colour variances, pointing to the high quality of the end product. This is often a major problem with cheaper alternative products such as those sourced from China.”

Engelbrecht says that Chryso Southern Africa has sophisticated equipment such as a Colourimeter that provides a quantitative measurement of the colour strength of the pigmentation. “Our colour laboratory supplies us with specifications that allow us to colour-match available concrete masonry production lines at a competitive rate.”

Looking to the future, he says that concrete admixtures, which are becoming increasingly popular as concrete technology itself advances, “provide a natural intervention for pigments. Depending on the specific customer requirements, we can blend any colours accordingly.” For example, Chryso Southern African mixes colours used exclusively by Lafarge for products such as its Artevia™ decorative concrete.

Engelbrecht says that Chryso Southern Africa has been conducting intensive research and development on pigmented or coloured concrete for nearly a decade. “There is a big push by readymix companies as it is seen as adding value to their own product, while architects and specifiers are increasingly becoming aware of the possibilities as they advance its future development and application.”

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