Insulated concrete forms are hollow blocks or panels made of expanded polystyrene or other insulating foam that can be stacked to complete the form of a building’s walls. Their interiors are filled with concrete to build the entire structure. An insulated concrete form sandwiches a heavy, high-strength material between two layers of light and highly insulated foam. This combination imparts properties such as air-tightness, strength, sound attenuation, and insulation to the wall.
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Insulated concrete forms are classified based on various characteristics such as their sizes, configuration of the forms, and shape of the concrete core created within the forms. Buildings erected with such walls exhibit a uniform temperature through the entire day and night. Insulated concrete forms can be polished with almost any interior and exterior finish, including siding or brick veneer. They have the ability to assume any shape, as a wooden or metallic frame. The air infiltration in these walls is negligible and they are primarily observed in residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings.
One of the primary drivers for the insulated concrete forms market is the rapidly evolving construction industry. It is a sector that currently emphasizes on unparalleled comfort, energy efficiency, and safety. Emerging regions such as Asia, South America, and the Middle East have been witnessing a sizeable surge in construction activities. This eventually propels the demand for insulated concrete forms in these regions. The requirement for better thermal performance is another motivating factor for the market. Stringent government environmental policies are expected to play an important role as well, since insulated concrete blocks are made of recycled materials and have been listed as green products. The adoption of disaster-resistant buildings that comply with energy guidelines has become a trend which also provides a positive impact on the global insulated concrete forms market.
In terms of type, insulated concrete forms could be classified into the flat wall system, waffle grid system, and post & beam system categories. The flat wall system involves a homogenous core of even thickness, whereas in the waffle grid system, it consists of connected horizontal carriers and vertical columns. In the post & beam system, the concrete forms are self-contained horizontal and vertical columns. All major systems of insulated concrete forms are engineer-designed, code-accepted, and field-proven. Most of the companies operating in this market manufacture forms with cavity widths ranging between 4″, 6″, 8″, and 10″. The concrete used for these forms varies depending on the configuration of the core and ease of access around the construction site. It also needs to be consolidated during the placement.
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On the basis of application, the global insulated concrete forms market has been divided into the commercial, industrial, infrastructural, and residential segments. In terms of material, insulated concrete forms can be split into the polystyrene foam, polyurethane foam, cement-bonded wood fiber, cement-bonded polystyrene beads, and cellular concrete varieties. Their sustainability solutions can be categorized into improved energy operations, natural disaster resistance, and fire resistance.
The global insulated concrete forms market has witnessed a robust expansion in 2016 and this trend is expected to continue during the forecast period. The burgeoning construction industry in Asia Pacific makes it a key region for this product, whereas the markets in North America and Europe are likely to expand at a moderate pace, unlike the markets in Latin America and the Middle East, which are anticipated to display a speedy extension, owing to the gamut of developmental activities in these regions.
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