The invention of concrete was destined to transform the building industry forever. For the first time, builders had a material that could be moulded to form new shapes and create bold and exciting structures that have endured for centuries. The fluted columns, domes, and arches of ancient Rome are ample testimony to the versatility and durability of this composite of cement and aggregate. However, the elaborate concrete structures of yesteryear and today owe their shapes not only to imaginative architects but also to various types of formwork, sometimes known as falsework or shuttering.
As the more descriptive of these terms implies, falsework refers to the supporting structure necessary to form the poured concrete into the desired shape. It must be sufficiently rigid to maintain that shape until the curing stage is complete. In effect, this is a moulding process in which the supporting components serve as the mould. While these moulds were once predominately wooden and hand-made by skilled artisans, today’s large construction companies want more robust and more reliable products. It is common practice to categorise the many types of modern formwork by their design or composition. Let us examine the latter.
Wooden panels provided the components for the earliest form of falsework. These were bound together with nails and ropes to form a seal and maintain rigidity. The choice persists among small builders today, although most now favour the less costly alternative of using plywood. Although plastic shuttering is handy for repetitive, low-cost projects, it lacks versatility. In practice, steel is now the preferred material for most major construction companies. Ease of use and durability have made steel shuttering the most widely used type of formwork on sale today.
Irrespective of the materials used in its manufacture, one can also classify shuttering according to its purpose, which, in turn, will determine its design. For example, when moulding tall columns, solid tubular structures or securely braced flat panels are essential to withstand the high pressure exerted by freshly poured concrete. Pillars and beams can be formed using suitably braced vertical or horizontal panels. For elevated use, the panels will need to be supported by scaffolding. Slip form, jump form, table form, and tunnel form are all types of formwork with specific applications. While shuttering serves mainly as a temporary mould, some types can be left in place to become an integral part of the construction.
Although steel falsework remains the option of choice, high-quality components are vital to ensure long service and the safety of moulded concrete structures. Disc-O-Scaff employs only SABS-approved materials to manufacture the durable and dependable components for each type of formwork and scaffolding it produces.