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October 13, 2004 8:19 AM CDT

Lessening the Learning Curve

By




IMI National Training Center Bricklaying Instructor Mitch Fost field testing SEALTECH block.
Having new products come onto the market can be inspiring, but there is also an element of skepticism. Will it work like it is supposed to? What happens when it gets into the hands of installers not familiar with it?

New products and systems can bring greater efficiencies and lower costs to construction, but they can also bring more complexity, which calls for more training and reliance on skilled craftworkers.

When US Technology Corp. prepared to unveil its new SEALTECHTM Block, it wanted to give designers and owners the comfort level that comes with certified craftworkers, so it turned to the International Masonry Institute (IMI) and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC). Together, they embarked on a collaborative effort to thoroughly understand the material and ensure proper installation.

According to the manufacturer, the new SEALTECH Block is the only certified green block meeting LEED? guidelines and the only architectural block that is inherently water-resistant. In addition, it is also stronger ? yet 10% lighter ? than standard block. SEALTECH Block comes in 16 colors and is available in 4", 8" and 12" sizes, and in split-face and smooth textures.

"We extensively tested the block before introducing it, to see that it exceeded all ASTM and industry standards," says Ray Williams, President of US Technology Corporation. "When you are the 'new and improved' product, you have to be better than the best."

Installation involves standard mortar, although US Technology recommends a specialized admixture to enhance water resistance and bonding.

To ensure proper installation, US Technology is working with IMI to test the new product, which is currently under way at IMI's National Training Center in Maryland. Once tests and reports are completed, IMI will develop a certification program to be disseminated throughout the BAC/IMI training system and incorporate the information into its craftworker training and certification programs, which include Instructor Certification, Supervisor Certification and Contractor College. Additionally, IMI's Technical Services team will provide materials and detailing information in educational sessions for the architectural community.

"IMI feels this unique working relationship between material supplier and craftworker trainer will give designers greater understanding of SEALTECH's design and constructability possibilities," says IMI President Joan Calambokidis.

Closing the gap between designer and craftworker is a longstanding priority for IMI. Since 1975, IMI has extended masonry training and technical learning to thousands of craftworkers, architects and project owners. In recent years, IMI and BAC have become leaders in the research and development of masonry techniques, applications and materials.


About the Author

Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com.

 

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