Composite piles are made of two different materials that are driven over each other, so as to enable them to act together to perform the function of a single pile. Composite piles are an ideal fit for waterfront piers, docks and seawalls. As opposed to traditional piling materials like wood and steel, composites resist rot, insect infestation and corrosion. These are the three biggest problems that destroy conventional constructions.
How Are Composite Piles Made
Composite piles are made with precast concrete upper sections. The precast section is created with a space in its lower end to receive the stub of the wood pile. The end of a timber pile is carved to form a point, which is wrapped with spiral wire. A casing and hardened core are driven at the same time to a depth well below groundwater level. Then the solid center is removed. The timber pile with the wire-wrapped tenon is inserted in the open casing and driven close to the it’s bottom by a follower. A corrugated metal shell with a reinforcing cage connected to its base is lowered in the casing and placed over the tenon of the timber pile.
Cast-in-situ: A Type of Composite Pile
Cast-in-situ piles are piles cast into position while already in the ground. Since the cast-in-situ piles are not prone to handling or driving complications, it is not necessary to reinforce the pile. The piles should remain sturdy in places where the pile is completely buried in the soil. Reinforcements are necessary for cast-in-situ piles when the pile acts as a column and is prone to lateral forces. In one type of cast-in-situ pile, the metallic shell is permanently left in place underground along with the core. In another type of this pile, the outer shell is withdrawn.
Challenges with Composite Piling
The desired length of a composite pile is in the range of 60 to 120 ft. Lengths of up to 180 ft have previously been driven for special projects. The ideal load range is 30 to 80 tons with a maximum load limited to about 150 tons. The primary disadvantage of the composite pile is the difficulty to attain a good joint between the two materials being used. The major advantage to composite piling is its comparatively low cost for the long pile lengths that can be purchased. However, the extra labor involved in the creation of a composite pile neutralizes its economic advantage in America.
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