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What Is Plastic Formwork?

M. McGee
M. McGee

Plastic formwork is part of a method used to mass produce simple concrete structures. The formwork is put together to form a mold for concrete. Workers place the formwork in the position where a wall needs to be and then pour concrete directly into the form. After it hardens, the form is removed and the wall is fully formed without any additional work. By using a pre-made set of plastic formworks, workers can quickly mass-produce simple buildings.

Using formworks to construct buildings is a very old practice. In the past, these forms were typically made of wood and were generally only used once. Either the process of making the building or the removal of the form was enough to damage the wood beyond reuse. These types of wooden forms are still used today, even in modern construction. Like their older counterparts, a modern wooden formwork will still only see a handful of uses before it is scrapped.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A plastic formwork is generally just the opposite of its wooden counterpart. These types of forms are made to be used over and over. The wooden versions are often custom-built for a specific job while the plastic forms are generic as possible so they can work anywhere.

These forms are built to operate in a larger set. While a plastic formwork will allow a worker to build a quick wall, the entire set will snap together to form exterior and interior walls complete with specialized panels for doors and windows. When a form is used in conjunction with others, a fully constructed building can be assembled in just a few days.

The primary purpose for plastic formwork construction is the mass production of inexpensive buildings. These structures are commonly built by people living in very harsh or remote locations, such as places with no roads or power and places suffering from natural disasters. The military will also use these techniques as a way of quickly establishing a satellite base of operations.

Structures of this type have two major advantages over other forms of semi-permanent buildings. The concrete used to make the walls is a common resource all over the world. In most places, it is possible to find the correct materials for a rough concrete mixture without any subsurface operation. In addition, outside of a handful of supervisors, workers do not need any form of construction training to properly operate the plastic formwork or finish the buildings. This allows people to use the systems in places with little to no infrastructure, language barriers or poor working conditions.

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