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.