An Intriguing History Of Shotcrete Services – Where It All Began!

April 21, 2022


Due to its durability, versatility, and flexibility of use, shotcrete has gained immense fame in the construction industry. From architectural decor options to structural shotcrete applications, shotcrete services boast a variety of uses in the modern construction realm. Although the conventional methods of concrete application promised great strengths, their viability often remained under question due to the extra effort required to compact the structure. Accordingly, shotcrete overcomes the limitations of these conventional methods flawlessly.

However, shotcrete’s uses also have limitations. Nevertheless, the benefits of shotcrete application methods greatly outweigh the restraints. But have you ever wondered when shotcrete services came into existence? Most of you might have a rough idea that the services are a recent industrial innovation. Still, very few of you might be aware that the very start of the 20th century marked the invention of this remarkable concrete application technique.

Well, there is no fun in just pouring out the information randomly. Thus, we have used this blog to systematically assemble the facts for easier comprehension.

So without further delay, let us dive into the depths of a great invention’s origins:

Chicago Field Museum’s Crumbling Architecture

In the early 1900s, a man named Frederick J. V. Skiff was having many sleepless nights filled with worry and uncertainties. As Chicago’s field Museum director, the grand structure’s gradual deterioration and the constant pressure from trustees to fix the problem left him feeling helpless. Day and night, he endlessly worked hard to seek out a solution that would prevent the old Palace of Fine Arts from collapsing to the ground.

Little did he know that the solution was lurking right within the walls of the museum, ready to be found.

Carl Ethan Akeley – The Father Of The Technique

An inquisitive mind coupled with brilliance and an unfaltering desire to find optimal solutions to the most challenging problems often gives birth to great inventions. Surprisingly, shotcrete services were also born from a similar scenario.

Driven by a desire to incorporate stamina into the dormant animal displays in museums to make them more lively, Akeley designed a large atomizer using compressed air to spray coloured plaster to recreate and better depict the animal’s habitats. However, this seemingly minor endeavor was to pave the way for great innovation. It wasn’t much longer before the director, Frederick, noticed the potential of Akeley’s creativity and problem-solving skills.

The First Shotcrete Application (1907)

Sensing that Akeley was a rough diamond who would stop the palace’s demise, Frederick quickly approached this polymath. He requested Akeley to devise a solution to fix the problem at hand. As expected, Akeley gladly took up the challenge and set out on a journey to repair the falling museum through his innovation.

After undeterred hard work and determination, he finally introduced the much-awaited plaster gun in 1907. This unique tool had the ability to shoot dry plaster at an incredible speed through a hose using compressed air. Furthermore, once the mixture reached the nozzle, water was added to it from another hose. Although the invention was not yet pitch-perfect due to the clogging that occurred at the nozzle, it did bring Frederick’s worries to an end.

Besides Frederick, other people in the industry also saw the great potential in Akeley’s invention. As a result, other companies began creating numerous variations of the product and called it things like ‘cement gun’. Nevertheless, by 1911, Akeley had successfully secured a patent for his hard work. The same year he also saw the introduction of the dry mix concrete(gunite). In 1912, however, he sold his patent to the Cement Gun Company.

Variations And Enhancements

From there, various tweaks and enhancements were done to the tool. As time went by, this concrete application method began being used in many large projects, such as fireproofing mines in 1920.

However, it wasn’t until 1930 that the name ‘shotcrete’ officially came into existence without being associated with any company. The American Railway Engineering Association introduced the term, and it quickly gained worldwide acceptance in the construction industry.

The Wet-Mix Era

Although the discussion thus far has been mainly focused on the dry mix application of concrete. You must be wondering when the wet mix came into the picture. For that, you need to fast-forward the story to 1955, when a method of shooting premixed contents rather than mixing them at the nozzle was introduced. From there, the industry switched to what we call the wet-mix application process.

If you are wondering whether Akeley’s journey ended with the patent’s sale, then worry not because his innovation was boundless. After leaving a permanent mark in the construction industry, he gave Hollywood a massive breakthrough in the shape of the Akeley Motion Picture Camera. Thus, his journey continued for ages, and his name will forever be written in golden letters.

About Sprayforce Concrete

Driven by the incredible inventions of the industry’s forerunners and united by a common purpose of providing sturdier construction solutions, Sprayforce Concrete seeks to leave a memorable mark in the industry. Contact us now to obtain top-tier shotcrete services.

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