The Use of Sliding Formwork and Its Benefits in Construction

The Use of Sliding Formwork and Its Benefits in Construction

Shuttering is vital to shape tall concrete structures, but static shutters are impractical above a certain height, and sliding formwork is the only option. Skyscrapers have long been a familiar part of the skyline in cities worldwide. However, until the early 1900s, their construction was an extremely time-consuming and costly task. Each floor had to be built separately and given time to stabilise before removing and relocating the shuttering to start building the next.

Slip forming, as the technique is commonly known, employs a formwork system that can be raised gradually as the concrete cures without the need to assemble, dismantle, and relocate it repeatedly. Because the shuttering moves continuously, the process eliminates visible joints. Also, the shuttering can be adjusted to change the taper or thickness of the structure on the fly. The technique was first used in 1910 for building silos, cooling towers, bridge piers, and dams in the US. In 1969, the method was adopted to create the Sheraton Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii, heralding a new era in construction history.

The Evolution of Sliding Formwork

Though unsuitable for all concrete structures, in addition to the abovementioned applications, slip forming has since been adapted for use in horizontal structures like pavement kerbs, airport taxiways, and cycle paths. However, the technology underpinning slip forming has also evolved considerably.

The initial use of manual labour to operate the hydraulic systems required to raise the shuttering is no longer necessary. Instead, modern slip-form shuttering employs motorised jacks, automated control systems, and advanced materials to ensure smoother and more precise operation.

In general terms, slip forming is an efficient and economical option for structures over 16 metres high and at least 15 centimetres thick. When appropriate, the form can be raised by 5 to 30 centimetres per hour or between 1,2 and 7,2 metres per day, a build rate well beyond the capabilities of any other current construction method.

Some Benefits of Sliding Formwork

Slip formwork offers multiple benefits, including the following:

  • Economy: The process significantly reduces construction timelines, resulting in considerable cost savings.
  • Precision: The automated adjustment of sliding formwork enables the precise control necessary to ensure uniformity and structural integrity, thus minimising the need for remedial work.
  • Speed: The continuous process allows work to continue around the clock and in all weathers.
  • Safety: Eliminating the need to assemble manual formwork at heights reduces the risk of accidents.

Sliding formwork has transformed the process of building tall structures, improving their quality while cutting costs. Contact us at Disc-O-Scaff for all your formwork and scaffolding requirements and transform your building projects.

The Nature, Use, and Benefits of Concrete Shutters in Construction

The Nature, Use, and Benefits of Concrete Shutters in Construction

While the invention of concrete revolutionised construction, this would not have been possible without concrete shutters to mould it into walls and columns. This greyish mixture of cement, water, air, and aggregate may lack the more attractive appearance of red brick, but it is equally strong and durable while being far more versatile.

In its uncured, wet state, the mix can be readily formed into any shape an innovative architect can dream up. However, maintaining that shape during the curing process requires using a support system known as formwork. The term is generic. It applies to any means of forming shapes from concrete and includes a type of temporary mould known as shuttering, the system used to create vertical structures from poured concrete.

Because shuttering must usually be removed once the contained structure is stable, it must be composed of separate interlocking parts. However, the freshly poured concrete will exert extreme pressure on the surrounding formwork, so it must be made from a suitably durable material. Furthermore, the joints between its component parts must be tightly sealed to prevent the wet concrete from leaking.

Historically, first timber and, later, plywood were used for this purpose, and the latter is still used today by some builders. However, although wood proved strong enough for the task, it is subject to warping and rot from repeated exposure to dampness. Consequently, concrete formwork made from wood has a limited lifespan.

The Benefits of Using Steel to Create Concrete Shutters

Materials science is a constantly and rapidly evolving field responsible for advances in areas as diverse as joint replacement surgery, battery design, aerospace, and the components of formwork used by construction companies. In the latter case, there are three contenders for a more effective alternative to wood.

  • Plastic: PVC shuttering has several attractive benefits. It is light, water-resistant, easily assembled and dismantled, and reusable. However, it’s more expensive than timber or plywood and has lower rigidity, strength, and bearing capacity than metal alternatives.
  • Aluminium: The metal is abundant and is, therefore, a more sustainable option than plastic. However, although it is also a lightweight material, it is easily dented, significantly more expensive, and its production has a high environmental impact.
  • Steel: Despite being the heaviest of the three, steel concrete shutters are also the toughest and most durable. It is also the most versatile and easiest to assemble and disassemble, making it the preferred choice of leading construction companies worldwide.

Purchasing Quality Concrete Shutters

We at Disc-O-Scaff are South Africa’s foremost manufacturer and supplier of steel formwork. Contact us for more information about our SABS-approved products for the construction industry.

The Use of Steel Formwork Offers a Number of Benefits over Other Types of Formwork

Using moulds to create the desired shape of a structure is a concept that dates back to ancient Rome. With the growing demand for better and more modern infrastructure, where once reeds and fibre were used, steel formwork has taken its place, allowing construction companies to build at a much faster pace. At Disc-O-Scaff, we manufacture several types of formwork panels made from durable steel, assisting in making architectural plans a reality.   

Steel Formwork for Construction Projects

Understanding the different types of shuttering available helps you gain a better perspective on why many construction companies opt for steel formwork from us at Disc-O-Scaff.

  1. Timber
    After the fall of ancient Rome, timber became the preferred choice of formwork. Timber is still the most commonly used formwork; however, if it is not well-seasoned or free from loose knots, it can affect the surface of the exposed concrete work. Always make sure that the wood is lightweight and easily workable without splitting.
  1. Plywood
    Made from layers of resin-bonded plywood sheets, this type of shuttering is often combined with timber formwork for panels of a required size. The cost of plywood compares favourably with timber formwork and is simplistic to assemble and remove.   
  1. Plastic
    Plastic formwork has the advantage of being lightweight and flexible, allowing for the construction of complex shapes and unique features. Unfortunately, plastic doesn’t have a high load-carrying capacity, is quite costly, and is prone to heat damage.   
  1. Steel Formwork
    Between the 1910s and 1950s, steel formwork became the shuttering of choice amongst construction crews. Wider-scale projects were done at a much faster pace by using this formwork over other types. The strength, durability, and longevity that steel presents make it possible for formwork to be designed according to the structural element being built and for it to be used multiple times without compromising the framework of the steel formwork.

Unlike other types of formwork where the quality of the exposed concrete might not be up to par, the modular design of steel formwork is excellent and the surfaces don’t need further treatment. During the setting process, steel does not shrink or warp and, once cured, can be easily and safely removed.

Importance of Using the Right Type of Formwork

Even though steel formwork is more expensive than plywood or timber, it has the distinct advantage of having a longer lifespan and being able to handle heavy load-carrying capacities. As steel is rigid enough to hold its shape, using this type of formwork in construction ensures that various sections can be removed without damaging the concrete. Circular, curved, or rectangular steel formwork is a formidable component of the construction industry.

For over 10 years, we at Disc-O-Scaff have manufactured and supplied superior-quality formwork and scaffolding solutions to major construction companies in South Africa. Contact us for more guidance on which steel formwork components will offer the best results for your specific project.