In commercial construction projects, building contractors use forms to help them build concrete buildings of one or multiple stories. Formwork is a temporary or a permanent mold the concrete is poured into to form strong walls, floors, or roofs of buildings. There are also formwork molds for building columns. There are companies that make and sell formwork elements to construction projects. That saves the building contractor the time and effort of building their own system.
What Types of Projects Use Formwork?
Companies such as Doka manufacture and sell all types of formwork for construction projects such as high-rise commercial buildings, other residential and commercial buildings, bridges, tunnels, power plants, and more. Different projects call for different kinds of formwork. The newer Lightweight Formwork is easier to use and lighter weight to handle in many construction projects.
Formwork is available for walls, floors, climbing, columns, timber beams, and more applications. These products are designed to include proven components, long lifespan, safety, and maximum efficiency for the builder.
What is Formwork?
The general description of formwork is the permanent or temporary molds used to pour concrete or like materials for concrete construction projects. Formwork can be made of different materials including wood, aluminum, steel, plastic, and other materials. Formwork can be removable and reusable or it can be meant to stay in place for added strength or insulation.
The Kinds of Formwork
There are several different types of formwork available to building contractors. Each type is good for certain types of projects.
- There is traditional wood formwork that is built on site using available timber, moisture-resistant plywood, or particleboard. This system is easy to build on-site but is time-consuming and impractical for large structures. The materials used for the facing have a shorter life. Locations around the world with low labor costs use this type extensively. Since it is created on-site, it is the most flexible system and may be used along with other systems for complicated sections of the build.
- An engineered formwork system is built in prefabricated modules using a metal frame. The metals used can be aluminum or steel. They are covered on the application or concrete side with materials wanted for the surface structure. These forms can be very durable and reusable. They are fast to install using a system of pins, clips, or screws. Metal systems are more durable because they do not rot like wood systems.
- The newer re-usable plastic formwork systems are interlocking and modular. They can be used to build unique, fairly simple concrete structures such as mass low-cost housing projects. The panels are lightweight and quite robust. They are quick and relatively easy to set up.
- The permanent insulated formwork choice is assembled on the site using insulated concrete forms and stays in place once the concrete is poured and cured. It can provide several advantages including fast setup, strength, and very good thermal and acoustic insulation. This form system often has furring strips for the cladding finishes.
- Another stay-in-place structural formwork type is assembled on site and is made of prefabricated fiber-reinforced plastic forms. They can be shaped like hollow tubes or other shapes that are connected together to form piers or columns, or other structures. The forms provide reinforcement and contain and protect the poured concrete.
- Flexible formwork can be made of strong, light-weight sheets of special fabric and is used where flexible shapes are wanted. They take advantage of concrete’s fluid characteristics to form architecturally interesting building elements. They allow for structures using less concrete with a more flowing look. This system is often used in conjunction with other types of formwork.
Choosing the Best Formwork System
Engineers, architects, building owners, and construction company representatives should choose the formwork system early in the building design process. Choose the framework supplier and use their experts in choosing the correct systems for each part of the project. The choices will narrow down to systems that are relatively inexpensive systems that are more labor-intensive or labor-saving systems that cost more.
The choice of the system might be affected by the local labor costs and project budget. The design group must consider the unique requirements of a particular building project. Which formwork materials and systems are most available and affordable from the supplier.? Which services are offered by the supplier such as pre-assembly of components and training of the construction company’s workers on-site?
During the early planning process, several formwork suppliers should be contacted for preliminary estimates. The decision must be made to use removable formwork systems or stay-in-place systems. The removable systems can be rented and the stay-in-place systems must be purchased. If a project will last 10 months or longer, it might be worth considering purchasing the system outright.
The Right Formwork Supplier Can Help Decide on the System
The final decision on which formwork to use and whether to rent it or purchase it depends on several factors.
- The duration of the time table for the project and how the formwork will be used should drive the decision about renting or purchasing outright. The construction company building strategy should also be considered.
- The chosen framework supplier such as Doka, as part of the project team, can help with the project budget and cost estimations for different types of formwork. The construction schedule will also dictate the type of formwork used.
- Have the supplier provide expert engineering services to help create a project design that uses formwork in the most economical way to limit the total project cost.
- Choosing the best formwork supplier for the project is the first step in getting the best-suited materials and formwork systems for each construction project.
- The construction project size and complexity may make it necessary to use a combination of formwork systems integrated smoothly to accomplish construction and design goals.
A construction company or an architect might find that establishing a good working relationship with the right formwork supplier, will be a great advantage moving from project to project. Vetting the building material suppliers carefully for product design, quality, competitive pricing, delivery speed, and dependability can save headaches later. If the formwork is going out to bid, consider that the lowest price is not always the best product or service.