Ancient monuments, tall buildings and classy structures are a treat for the eyes. What’s so special about it, that it has etched itself in our mind, as a memory to be cherished with? Have you ever wondered how these structures were built? How did the concrete take shape? Formwork.
What is Formwork?
Formwork used in construction is a type of mould which is used to cast a required shape by primarily pouring concrete into it. Just as the water takes the shapes of a container into which it is poured, the concrete takes the shape prescribed by the formwork within which it is poured.
Why is Formwork Important?
Remember building sandcastles as a child? We can use all our imagination to build the most beautiful sandcastle, but one strong blow is all that’s needed to put them to smithereens- the reason being the lack of rigidity. Though concrete is known to exhibit this very property, it can do it only after it’s fully dried. So, if we want to have curves or any other geometric feature, we just can’t throw concrete in mid-air and pray that it would take the required form. Rather, we use concrete formwork. The formwork construction provides the necessary assistance, acts as a guide to the concrete and remains that way until the concrete solidifies.
By definition, Formwork is a layout of temporary moulds into which concrete (or some other similar material) is poured to attain the desired shape and size. Formwork is usually removed (unless it is a permanent formwork) once the concrete hardens and attains strength to hold the structure by itself. In concrete construction, the formwork or shuttering moulds are supported by falsework.
What are the types of Formwork?
There are different categories based on the formwork materials which are used to make the moulds. The most common amongst them are,
- Timber Formwork
- Steel Formwork
- Aluminium Formwork
- Plywood Formwork
- Fabric Formwork
- Plastic Formwork
The most popularly spotted type of formwork goes by the name concrete shuttering, where a special grade of water-resistant plywood would be the material used in concrete forming systems.
What are the challenges in Formwork Engineering?
Formwork industry just as any other has its own set of challenges to deal with starting from getting the vertical surfaces straight to damaging the concrete during dismantling the formwork. Though flexible concrete forms can be used to construct the smooth curves, proper care is to be exercised while handling the concerned accessories at each stage, since the damages if any, would leave a great impact on the entire building.
What are the best practices in Formwork Construction?
Engineering formwork is not an easy task for execution since the stability of the entire building depends on it. One ought to bear in mind a list of things that ought to be checked for a successful formwork. Some of them are,
- A sufficient number of supports to withstand the entire load till the concrete hardens.
- A thin film of grease or shuttering oil is to be applied on the inner surfaces of the building formwork for a smooth de-shuttering.
- Formwork design is to be done considering the safe bearing capacity of the soil.
Creating a boundary zone to prevent the workers from accessing the areas beneath the formwork.
What are the roles and responsibilities of a Site Engineer in Formwork?
Here are some crucial roles and responsibilities that a site engineer ought to handle in formworks building,
- Maintenance of good housekeeping around working area and passage.
- Safety training of personnel involved in formwork
- Checking the connections for correct installation and periodic inspection to check wear and correct positioning.
- Inspecting the alignment of the supports given to the formwork as in verticality, height, spacing between.
- Ensuring all the support props are placed on a hard bearing surface.
- Safe nailing and firm locking of clamps on adjustable props are to be ensured.
- De-shuttering only upon the concrete reaching the necessary strength.
Formwork Industry in India
Being one of the largest construction markets in the world, India has a competitive market where several players are offering economic as well as quality solutions. So, as with all the competitive markets, the formwork segment too is expected to delight their customers with the innovative technologies being offered as opposed to the conventional approach. With necessity being the mother of invention, the Indian market expecting to have a flamboyant architecture with a good quality of finish within a shorter period has pushed the industry to move beyond simple solutions such as steel concrete forms. So, it is safer to say that the best is yet to come!
A conventional formwork always takes more time to set up and use whilst the modern formwork can be easily deployed. Though the former is cheaper than the latter, it cannot be used in the construction of larger structures due to its tendency to warp. This is mainly because the conventional formwork uses wood while the modern formwork uses steel or aluminium.
- Lowers the cost of construction by reducing the time consumed to advance to the next floor level.
- Aids in providing a better-quality surface finish
- Can be reused multiple times when handled properly.
Formwork is to be supported in such a manner that it bears the entire load before the concrete is ready to resume duties. This means ample supports in the form of poles or metal props that are resting upon proper bearing plates with proper spacing in between.
There isn’t a field in this world today that doesn’t have plastic in it. When it comes to making that pavement or driveway, plastics form would just serve the purpose. With its inherent capacity to flex itself to the required shape and also to be reused more times than the metallic equivalent, they would be an ideal solution.