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-Post, a prefix, meaning behind, after, later, subsequent to, posterior

to, occurring originally in loanwords from Latin ( postscript), but now used freely in
the formation of compound words ( post-Elizabethan; postfix; postgraduate;

-Tensioning, an act or process of stretching something tight or

the condition of so being stretched; tautness.

Post tensioning is a technique for reinforcing concrete. Post-tensioning tendons,

which are prestressing steel cables inside plastic ducts or sleeves, are positioned in
the forms before the concrete is placed. Afterwards, once the concrete has gained
strength but before the service loads are applied, the cables are pulled tight, or
tensioned, and anchored against the outer edges of the concrete.

Post-tensioning is a form of prestressing. Prestressing simply means that the steel is

stressed (pulled or tensioned) before the concrete has to support the service loads.
Most precast, prestressed concrete is actually pre-tensioned-the steel is pulled
before the concrete is poured. Post-tensioned concrete means that the concrete is
poured and then the tension is applied-but it is still stressed before the loads are
applied so it is still prestressed.

Post-Tensioned concrete was originally developed during the 1930's by a

Frenchman, Eugene Freyssinet, who realized that placing concrete under
compression greatly increased its strength. Post-tensioning consists of laying
sheathed cables, pouring concrete around them and allowing it to set up, then
stretching the cables and locking them into place.

After World War II, post-tensioned concrete became a popular building method
because of the steel shortage and the need to replace damaged and bombed-out
bridges. The design and use of this method waned until the mid-1960's, when much
of its utilization was in the area of ground-supported slabs for warehouse,
apartment, and residential floors.

In 1976, the Post-Tensioning Institute, which recognized the expanding interest in

the field, was formed. The use of post-tensioned concrete slabs for tennis courts,
however, is fairly new. The United States Tennis Court and Track Builders Association
did not issue a general specification for post-tensioned construction until 1982.

The use of post-tensioning allows thinner concrete sections, longer spans between
supports, stiffer walls to resist lateral loads and stiffer foundations to resist the
effects of shrinking and swelling soils. Concrete has what engineers call
compressive strength meaning that it happily bears its own weight within a
structure. As soon as you introduce the live loads of everyday usage, such as
vehicles in a car park or on a bridge, the concrete tends to deflect or sag which
leads to cracking, thus weakening the structure.
Concrete lacks tensile strength. Alone, it does not always offer the flexibility
needed. Thats why steel reinforcing bars rebar are often embedded in the
concrete to limit the width of cracks. However, rebar provides only passive
reinforcement that is, it does not bear any load or force until the concrete has
already cracked.
This is where post-tensioning comes in. PT systems provide active reinforcement.
The function of post-tensioning is to place the concrete structure under compression
in those regions where load causes tensile stress. Post-tensioning applies a
compressive stress on the material, which offsets the tensile stress the concrete
might face under loading. PT is applied by the use of post-tensioning tendons a
complete assembly including the very high strength prestressing steel strands or
bar, the sheathing or protective ducting, plus any grout or corrosion-inhibiting
coating surrounding the steel strands or bar and the anchorages needed at both
A typical steel strand used for post-tensioning has a diameter of 15.7mm and a
tensile strength around four times higher than an average non-prestressed piece of
rebar. Sheathing or ducting houses the prestressing steel. This allows it to move as
necessary when the tensioning force is applied after the concrete cures. The steel
stretches as it is tensioned and it is locked into place using an anchoring
component, thus maintaining the force in the strand for the life of the structure.
Top: Post-tensioning tendons are draped within the slab cross section.
Bottom: Significant over-balancing of the weight of the concrete with
post-tensioning can actually lift and crack the slab.