BubbleDeck: Replacing Concrete with Air

Blog written by Findorff's Evan Bond, Project Engineer

Recently, Findorff utilized BubbleDeck™ Technology at our ProHealth Care – Central Utility Plant project in Waukesha, Wis. Bubbledeck™ is a voided structural slab design that uses recycled plastic spheres sandwiched between layers of reinforcing steel lattice to introduce “voids” into the two-way slab. Using BubbleDeck™ in place of traditional slab construction can reduce weight by up to 35%, thereby dramatically reducing the structural dead weight, and allowing for smaller columns and beams. Similarly, with BubbleDeck™ construction, approximately 1kg of recycled plastic used to form voids will replace 100kg of concrete, while maintaining the two-way span (biaxial) strength. This reduction in concrete provides the following benefits:

  • Reduced overall cost for the owner
  • Faster construction
  • Lower risk
  • LEED® compatibility and environmental sustainability

Another advantage of utilizing BubbleDeck™ is the positive effect on schedule and the use of prefabrication. The panels utilized at ProHealth Care were constructed offsite and included partial precast with about 2.5" of concrete, bubbles, and steel. Once the project team was ready, these panels were delivered to the project site and flown into place with a crane where they were poured to grade. The precast concrete allowed the slab to be set on temporary shoring and eliminated the need for all formwork on the underside of the deck. The combination of precast, custom panels and the elimination of formwork vastly increased the installation process.

Findorff has utilized this technology for several years. In 2012, Findorff was the first general contractor to install BubbleDeck™ in the United States, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison LaBahn Arena. This innovation reduced overall costs, saved two days of construction and used 30% less concrete than traditional methods. Although the BubbleDeck™ system requires extensive coordination at the inception of the project, the cost and time savings benefit everyone involved.

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