Formwork is an integral ingredient in the construction industry and can be defined as temporary or permanent moulds into which concrete is poured which subsequently hardens. Various types of formwork in Australia have been used since our colonisation over 300 years ago, however formwork has been utilised all over the world for thousands of years to help create structures of all shapes and sizes. Construction has undoubtedly been the cornerstone of today’s civilisation, and formwork has played a pivotal role in our evolution.
Since the inception of modern technology, the construction industry has evolved rapidly. Being able to plan and design huge structures on a computer has certainly increased the speed, efficiency, and safety of construction, and significantly reduced costs simultaneously. Furthermore, the materials used in construction today are far stronger and durable than those used even a short time ago, and this has enabled us to builder safer and more sustainable structures.
What is Formwork?
There are many types of formwork available that are used for different purposes, however each of them serves as a mould into which concrete is poured which subsequently hardens into the shape that has been designed. Since concrete has relatively poor tensile strength, the earliest and most famous uses of formwork were used to build arches and domes, such as the Pantheon in Rome.
Today, there are variety of types of formwork used in construction. Formwork in Australia is used depending on the type of structure being built and the project’s budget, and it’s common for a mixture of formwork to be used in the same project. In this article, we’ll examine the three most common kinds of formwork, and the reasons why formwork is so important in today’s construction industry.
Insulated Concrete Formwork
Insulated Concrete formwork (ICF) is fast becoming one of the most popular types of formwork due to its many advantages, low costs and low environmental footprint. Typically assembled on-site, this type of formwork stays in place once the concrete has hardened and provides many advantages. ICF is fast to construct, durable, fire resistant, and provides superior acoustic and thermal insulation. Many countries are integrating ICF into their building codes, so this type of formwork will be prevalent for residential and commercial buildings in the coming years.
Traditional Timber Formwork
Traditional timber formwork was the earliest type of formwork used due to its mass availability and low costs. Made traditionally from plywood or lumber, this type of formwork is very easy to produce, however it has a short lifespan and the process of making timber formwork can be rather time-consuming. Thus, timber formwork tends to be favoured where labour costs are low, but it’s certainly not suitable for large structures. It is, however, ideal for complex sections of construction due to its versatility.
Engineered formwork has become very common in today’s age, utilising prefabricated modules with metal frames that are made from either aluminium or steel. This type of formwork can be reused thousands of times and is very uncomplicated, which in turn makes it very cost-effective and a popular choice for many construction companies.
The Importance of Formwork
Formwork in Australia is extremely important for many reasons, however one of the biggest reasons is that formwork simply cannot be replaced with other technologies. The fastest and most cost-effective way of building concrete structures is to use formwork.
Other reasons why formwork is so important in the construction industry are:
- Formwork provides suitable access and working platforms that significantly increase the safety of workers during the construction phase.
- Formwork offers a great deal of structural safety by providing solutions against all superimposed loads, creating incredibly safe and sustainable structures.
- Formwork significantly reduces the costs and timeline of the project by minimising floor to floor construction cycle time, meaning more projects meet their budgetary requirements.
- Formwork allows construction managers to provide precise on-time mobilisation and demobilisation of formwork resources, increasing project efficiency and resource usage.
- Formwork is directly related to the surface finishing of the concrete structure, so the better the quality of formwork used, the better the surface finishing will be. Faulty concrete finishing is very costly to repair both in terms of labour and resources.
As discussed, there are many types of formwork available and the best type of formwork to be used on any given project depends on several factors. If you’re undertaking your own DIY project at home, or would simply like some advice on what type of formwork would best suit your project specifications, get in touch with the experts at Uni-Span by phoning 1300 882 825, or alternatively visit our website for a look at what formwork we specialise in at: https://uni-span.com.au/formwork/