Aluminium Formwork: The Complete Guide to Using Aluminium Concrete Shuttering

The Aluminium Formwork System was invented in 1990 by a Malaysian Company called Mivan, which is still one of today’s leading aluminium formwork manufacturers. Hence, the system is sometimes referred to as Mivan Shuttering. Aluminium Formwork System allows the casting of entire slabs and columns all at once, making the unit a composite structure.

Difference Between Formwork and Shuttering

Formwork and shuttering are regular vernacular in the concrete construction industry. These terms are often used interchangeably.

Technically, the term formwork is the umbrella term for the forming process, while shuttering refers to the temporary molds used to hold wet concrete until it sets and cures.

Aluminium Formwork System Definition

The Aluminium Formwork System is a system of construction that allows the forming of cast-in-situ concrete of a structure. It is also a framework used for controlling and scheduling other construction work, like electrical and mechanical conduits, steel reinforcement and concrete placement.

Constructing load-bearing walls is optimal with Aluminium Formwork. In contrast, conventional formwork like wooden shuttering, as the name suggests, involves using wooden components that may not hold up against the pressure from fresh concrete.

Aluminium Formwork is a highly advantageous technology in that it is quick and simple to make, cost-efficient, and flexible. It can produce quality output and puts durability as a primary consideration while keeping maintenance to a minimum.

While it is a relatively new technology, Aluminium Formwork improves construction quality while cutting down on time and costs. Using this system for load-bearing constructs saves an average of 15% in construction costs and an increase of 8% functional floor area versus an RCC design.

The Aluminium Formwork System is successfully adopted in developed countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Europe. Aluminium Formwork has proven to be extremely cost-effective for plinth work and for the repetition of building layouts in the countries mentioned above.

The system can also be used to design and create any building component, like stairs, windows, beams, columns, horizontal floors and floating plates. It is unique because all building components — including walls, columns, slabs, balconies, and window hoods — can be made from concrete without requiring masonry.

In turn, this increases strength and endurance to the structure. It also allows the structure a form of finish, meaning a skim coat can be directly applied to a wall. The finish eliminates or reduces the time and cost required to apply external and internal plasters if needed at all.

Aluminium formwork construction, cast-in-situ walls made of concrete, and monolithically cast floor slabs build almost the entire system in one singular and continuous pour. The concrete commonly used is produced under strict quality control in Ready-Mix-Concrete batching plants and then transported to the site via transit mixers.

Large forms for walls and floor slabs are set up on-site for better accuracy and to remove the need for transport. These accurately fabricated forms are built to be durable, manageable, and reusable. Large forms are tested to last through years after building.

Aluminium Formwork has two classifications: horizontal and vertical formwork. Horizontal formwork systems are used to form horizontal concrete elements, like slabs or roofing. Vertical formwork, however, is used to form the vertical support for the structure, such as shear walls, core walls, and columns.

Benefits of Aluminium Formwork 

The world is experiencing rapid urbanization, increasing the demand for structures that conventional construction methods cannot fulfill. The conventional ways of formwork systems, like wooden shuttering, can be a slow process. Construction firms may want a method where a systematic approach can control construction quality and pace.

Aluminium Formwork is ideal for constructing multi-story buildings, commercial buildings, and constructing multiple houses. Its tenacity allows for consistency in timeliness and quality, cutting costs without cutting corners. This is why most construction firms choose this formwork system over alternatives.

How Aluminium Formwork Systems Are Constructed

The construction process for aluminium formwork versus conventional formwork is quite similar. If you have experience in conventional formwork construction, you will find it easy to switch. Here are the steps in which aluminium formwork systems are constructed.

1. Preparing The Site

Similar to its conventional counterpart, once the site is compacted, trenches are dug, plumbing is installed, and the horizontal aluminium formwork is set. Structural footings are dug and slab steel is installed in accordance with local code. 

2. Setting Up The Wall Steel

The wall steel is used to form the building structure. The steel reinforcement supports the concrete until it comes to about fifty percent of its designed strength. The steel mesh is pre-fabricated and can be easily set up on-site. Electrical boxes and rigid or flexible conduits are attached to the wall steel, depending on local codes.

3. Placing Formwork

Aluminium formwork is pre-built, designed and manufactured inside the factory. It is accurately sized according to the desired measurement of beams, slabs, columns, staircases and all other structural requirements. Also, it is easily assembled on-site by a pin-and wedge system.

4. Pouring Concrete

Once all the necessary formwork is in place, concrete is then poured inside. The formwork can be dismantled when the concrete cures and reaches optimal strength. Aluminium formwork can be easily taken apart and be ready for reuse once construction is done.

Components of Aluminium Formwork

The panel is the basic component of the aluminum formwork. It is an extruded aluminum rail section fused to an aluminum sheet. This process creates a lightweight metal component with high strength in proportion to its weight, which yields little to no deflection when placed under the pressure of concrete loading. Any other part is called an extrusion. 

Panels and extrusions are created to fit any requirements of any specific project accurately. The basic components of Mivan Formwork, or Aluminium Formwork Systems, can be divided into four types based on usage.

1. Wall Components

Walls are an integral part of any structure and are built to shield it from impacts of environmental hazards. Here’s an overview of wall components.

A. Wall Panel

The main and most basic component of the Aluminium Formwork System is the wall panel. It forms the wall face made out of aluminium sheets that are accurately cut to the required size.

B. Rockers

Rockers are L-shaped panels with allotment holes for stub pins that support the wall panels.

C. Kickers

Kickers support the wall panels by forming a wall face at the top of the panel.

D. Stub Pin

These are used to join different wall components together.

2. Beam Components

The foundation that forms structures are beams and we should understand its basics to create solid work. 

A. Beam Side Panel

A beam side panel is an accurately cut and sized rectangular part that forms the sides of beams.

B. Prop Head

Prop heads are V-shaped parts used to support the beam when there is none at the bottom.

C. Soffit Beam Panels

Soffit beam panels are rectangular aluminum structures placed in the prop head and support the soffit beams.

3. Deck Components

Decks are created by shaping cement into something that can support weight. Here’s what you need to know.

A. Deck Panels

A flat, horizontal surface that the slab is cast on. There can be multiple deck panels in a larger site.

B. Deck Prop

Deck props are identical to the beam deck prop. It supports the slab and bears the load bore down upon the deck panel.

C. Prop Length

Prop lengths support the deck prop vertically. These are also adjustable depending on the slab height.

D. Soffit Length

Soffit length provides edge support to the deck panels at the room’s perimeter.

4. Other Components

The other components and aluminium formwork accessories used — excluding the wall, beam, and deck components — are internal and external soffit corners and exterior and interior wall panel corners. 

Final Thoughts

This guide digs into the basic and more complex subjects of Aluminum Concrete Shuttering. If you’re new to this, here’s a list of advantages and disadvantages of aluminium formwork systems to consider before using them in construction:

Advantages of Aluminium Formwork Systems

  1. High-consistency of dimensions
  2. High-quality concrete finish is produced upon removal of the mold
  3. A complete system can build complete concrete structures
  4. Can be customized to suit project or client requirements
  5. Extremely fast and efficient construction
  6. Panels are reusable for up to 250 times
  7. Minimal unskilled labor can use it

Disadvantages of Aluminium Formwork Systems

  1. Concealed services may become difficult due to the small thickness of components
  2. Requires uniform planning and elevations to be cost-effective
  3. Modifications are impossible as parts are cast in RCC
  4. At least 200 repeat usages of the forms are necessary for cost-efficiency
  5. Requires a number of the spacer, wall ties, etc., @ 2 feet C/C, which can create issues such as seepages or leakages during torrential rains
  6. Cracks are more likely to appear
  7. High hydration heat due to shear walls