Use of a Concrete Cylinder

Concrete Cylinder
Concrete Cylinder

Concrete cylinders are used to assess the compressive strength of fresh concrete. Though other methods for breaking it apart might yield faster results, cylinders remain the industry standard for acceptance testing.

Properly molding and curing a concrete cylinder requires training, care and effort. Once stored for initial curing they should be retrieved within the time limit prescribed by ASTM C31 / AASHTO T 23.

1. Durability

Concrete cylinders are often used to test the strength of concrete. But there are more accurate methods of assessing its strength that could give better results.

Concrete cylinder testing is the industry standard method for assessing concrete strength. While widely accepted, this testing method does have its drawbacks.

Idealy, the cylinders should be tested immediately upon casting; however, this may not always be possible due to scheduling or weather constraints. Once created, they must be stored correctly to prevent exposure to sunlight or contaminants such as air pollutants and extreme temperatures – before transporting them directly back to a lab for testing within 48 hours.

Time-consuming concrete testing procedures often require trained personnel for accurate results. Cylinders must be prepared correctly so they represent the concrete being placed on site accurately; one common approach is using sulfur capping compound; however, this approach may give false readings. A more reliable option would be following ASTM C31/AASHTO T 23 in terms of testing method preparation.

2. Strength

Concrete cylinders are used to perform strength tests on construction-grade concrete samples before being put to use in construction projects. A set of two or three cylinders molded from each concrete sample are allowed to cure in controlled conditions for an agreed upon period, typically 28 days, before testing their compression strength – the average compression test result will then be used as the basis for acceptance decisions regarding concrete use. Cylinders can also be used as early-age strengths indicators to verify whether or not the concrete is ready for stripping forms, shoring and road openings.

However, the cylinder testing method does have its weaknesses. There have been instances of low break results which could be attributable to poor fabrication, handling, and curing practices; such shortcomings can reduce actual strength of cylinders.

To ensure accurate test results, it is critical to use a quality concrete cylinder mold and adhere to appropriate procedures. This includes making sure it has been cleaned and sterilized prior to every use; rubber gaskets or neoprene pad caps should be added around its perimeter to seal against moisture loss during curing.

Cylinders should be stored for initial curing in an environment with temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. They should also be protected from direct sunlight, radiant heat and freezing temperatures.

3. Flexibility

Concrete cylinders, also referred to as break test specimens, are used to measure the compressive strength of concrete. They’re cast as test specimens to test this quality control measure to make sure that each batch of delivered concrete meets minimum acceptable strength standards. To achieve accurate testing results, proper casting, curing, and handling must take place for accurate results.

As specified by ASTM C31, when creating concrete cylinders for testing it is vitally important that they conform to all of its requirements. This includes equipment needed, casting procedures and an approved method for curing. Cylinders may either be field or standard cured but typically cylinders used for acceptance testing should be standard cured as this will allow for accurate representation of temperatures and relative humidity levels found within their intended structure.

Once concrete cylinders are ready for curing, it is essential that they be carefully transported and stored without suffering damage during transport and storage. They should be placed in a padded container and delivered promptly to their lab to avoid damage or moisture loss during shipping. Cylinders which have been dropped or jostled during transit often have reduced break strengths requiring extra care when packing them securely into trucks for transportation.

Molds for producing concrete cylinders may be constructed of steel, cast iron or another non-absorbent material that will retain its shape and dimensions without leakage of concrete into its dimensions. Once the concrete has been poured into these molds it must be thoroughly compacted using a rod that penetrates each layer 25 times, up to a depth of 1 inch.

4. Safety

Molding and curing an accurate concrete cylinder requires training and care, which is why ASTM C31 stipulates standard curing protocols for specimens used in acceptance testing to guarantee reliable strength results. Cylinders that have not been properly cured may produce less accurate test results which may create undue stress on projects as a whole; to mitigate this issue it is wise to employ a reliable concrete testing laboratory which adheres to ASTM procedures when creating and curing their specimens.

Ideal conditions dictate that cylinders should be transported directly from final set (8 hours after mold pour), directly to a laboratory as soon as possible after arrival at their final set state. When transported they should be stored in an area shielded from direct sunlight and protected from freezing temperatures in an environment such as a cooler; additionally they must be properly secured so as to prevent being damaged during transport.

Pad caps must be attached to both ends of each cylinder during its 28-day break, making sure they are level, smooth and perpendicular to its axis for easy load application and distribution during compression testing. Once loaded up to capacity, these pad caps enable easier alignment of loading indicators with top surfaces of cylinders for testing compression loads that are truly axial loads.

The Concrete Cylinder: A Pillar of Strength and Versatility

The humble concrete cylinder, often overlooked in its simplicity, is a ubiquitous and vital element in our built environment. From the foundations of skyscrapers to the walls of water tanks, these unassuming shapes play a crucial role in shaping our world. In this article, we delve into the fascinating world of concrete cylinders, exploring their history, applications, engineering marvels, and even artistic endeavors.

A Historical Foundation:

The use of concrete cylinders dates back millennia. Ancient civilizations like the Romans and Egyptians employed rudimentary forms of concrete, often incorporating cylindrical elements in their structures. However, the modern concrete cylinder, as we know it, emerged in the 19th century with the development of Portland cement. This stronger and more versatile binder revolutionized concrete construction, leading to the widespread adoption of cylindrical shapes for their structural efficiency and ease of construction.

Strength in Simplicity:

The inherent strength of the concrete cylinder lies in its geometry. The circular cross-section distributes compressive forces evenly throughout the material, minimizing stress concentrations and maximizing load-bearing capacity. This makes them ideal for columns, piers, and other load-bearing elements in buildings, bridges, and other structures.

The cylindrical shape also offers advantages in terms of material efficiency. Compared to square or rectangular columns, cylinders require less concrete for the same load-bearing capacity. This translates to cost savings and reduced environmental impact.

Beyond the Basics:

While the basic concrete cylinder reigns supreme in construction, its versatility extends far beyond. Precast concrete cylinders, manufactured off-site in controlled conditions, offer precise dimensions and consistent quality, ideal for rapid construction and modular components.

Reinforced concrete cylinders, incorporating steel bars within the concrete, significantly enhance their tensile strength and allow them to withstand bending and shear forces. This opens up possibilities for arches, beams, and other complex structural elements.

Engineering Marvels:

Concrete cylinders have been at the heart of some of the most impressive engineering feats. The iconic Hoover Dam, for example, utilizes massive concrete cylinders in its core, providing stability against the immense pressure of Lake Mead. Similarly, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur feature high-strength concrete cylinders in their core structure, enabling them to withstand wind and seismic forces.

More Than Just Muscle:

Beyond their structural prowess, concrete cylinders have found their way into the realm of art and design. Architects and designers have embraced the inherent beauty and flexibility of the cylinder, creating captivating sculptures, furniture, and even entire buildings.

A Sustainable Future:

As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change, the focus on sustainable construction materials is intensifying. Concrete, often criticized for its high carbon footprint, is undergoing a transformation. Research into low-carbon and recycled concrete formulations is paving the way for more sustainable concrete cylinders, ensuring their continued relevance in the future.


The concrete cylinder, a seemingly simple form, holds within it a remarkable story of strength, versatility, and innovation. From ancient foundations to modern marvels of engineering and art, it has shaped our world and continues to inspire new possibilities. As we strive for a more sustainable future, the concrete cylinder, reinvented and reimagined, promises to remain a vital pillar of our built environment.

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