Apical Blog

Showcasing Australia’s capabilities in advanced composite solutions for infrastructure projects

11th November 2014


Advanced composite technologies are promising an exciting and creative era for infrastructure projects and Australia has the opportunity to be at the forefront.

An audience of more than 60 composite professionals and infrastructure specifiers couldn’t help but be inspired at a forum in Western Australia that showcased a number of recent projects both in Australia and international innovative and high quality infrastructure solutions.

Brian Nelson, a structural engineer with Capital House Australasia was unequivocal in his advocacy for composites technology which he described as often the only possible material solution that will meet both the performance specification, as well as the creative brief for small bridges and architectural structures. Brian believes that composite technology is piloting an exciting and creative era for design solutions not previously contemplated for the construction of bridges and other infrastructure.

Glenn Swarbrick whose family company pioneered marine composites in Australia during the 60s outlined his professional journey from making ocean going yachts to aesthetically beautiful civic art and small bridges – all with the unique knowledge of composites technology.

The most profound example of the structural integrity of composites in infrastructure was presented by Tony Stanton who showcased Gurit’s middle east portfolio of projects that bake in temperatures up to 130 degrees. The aesthetic prize goes to the Pont y Ddraig, ‘The Dragon’s Bridge’ at Foryd Harbour, Rhyl in Wales. The bridge spanning 80metres boasts a 45m-high mast and two walkways that resemble the wings of a dragon that lift to allow boats to pass.

Gosnell Council’s faith in composite technology was showcased as the attendees assembled on the light weight 21 metre single span Centennial Pioneer Park Pedestrian Bridge over the Canning River.

Skip Miller, Senior Design Engineer with the Composites Consulting Group advised the audience that the rapidly decreasing technology costs are allowing developed countries to build wonderful structures competitively. He outlined, in order of cost the available composite technologies and creative examples of their application in pedestrian bridges.

Detours and road closures are less than tolerated by busy commuter based communities.  Prefabricated, lightweight, easily transportable bridges offer Accelerated Bridge Construction (known as ABC) solutions. Design approaches and unique applications will continue to be developed to exploit the advantages of Fibre Reinforced Plastics (FRP).To that end, a significant opportunity exists to open a new era of bridge design and construction allowing innovation dramatic and more efficient structural forms to be conceived and constructed using advanced composite technology.