Types of formwork available and its uses

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10:54 AM

Concrete formwork has been used widely in building projects for hundreds of years. Today formwork can be completed by construction companies to create a mould into which concrete can be poured to achieve the desired shape.

It is often used for structural elements (pylons, beams or panels) or wherever solid concrete or reinforced concrete components are required, including foundations, columns, chimneys, bridges, towers or containers.

Formwork is temporary by nature – it is designed to be removed after the concrete has hardened in place. The skill is in building it strong enough to withstand the weight and pressure of the cement, but not so strong that it can't be easily removed when its work is done.

Therefore, the process of stripping the formwork is always kept in mind even as it is being erected. Poorly made formwork that breaks due to the force of the poured concrete can cost a company in loss of materials or may even injure workers located nearby.

By contrast, if formwork is excessively robust, it will require more work to strip it and often results in the formwork being unable to be used another time – costing construction companies more again in skilled labour and materials.

For this reason, contemporary construction techniques regularly use several types of formwork, depending on the project required. These include:

  • Steel formwork. Thin steel panels are fabricated, stiffened along the edges and held together with clamps, nuts or bolts, depending on the desired outcome. Steel formwork is particularly durable and useful for any project where multiple identical shapes are needed with a smooth surface.
  • Timber formwork. When builders are after exposed concrete work, timber formwork is a good option. It should always be smooth surfaced where it comes into contact with the concrete. Timber is a cost-effective, easy option for a variety of shapes, sizes and weight used in smaller projects.
  • Plywood formwork. Strong and lightweight, plywood is used in a similar way to timber to create more affordable and flexible formwork. The plywood sheets can be bonded with resin to form larger panels and effects.
  • Aluminium formwork. A lighter formwork version than steel, aluminium formwork is more flexible and easier to handle yet durable enough to use repeatedly in a more massive project. It is an economical alternative to steel formwork.
  • Fabric formwork. New architectural techniques have championed the use of fabric formwork to create irregular, more complex shapes that are still structurally sound. When filled with poured concrete you get the kind of effect seen in the work of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. This exciting new technology makes it possible to produce concrete forms of any contour.
  • Plastic formwork. Versatile plastic formwork is a modular, interlocking and lightweight system that can be reused over a hundred times. It is an excellent option for simple structures and is often used to cut costs and time when building housing estates, where there are multiple buildings of the same proportions.

If you’re looking for concrete formwork hire, we can help. Call us today.