In the construction industry, formwork is the temporary structure of boards or metal that makes up a frame into which wet concrete is poured. When the concrete has hardened, the structures are removed, leaving behind concrete perfectly shaped for purpose.
Sounds pretty simple, but there’s more to this job than you might think. Let’s take a look at the Woronora Bridge as an example. The Woronora Bridge is the largest incrementally launched bridge in the Southern Hemisphere and connects the suburbs of Menai and Sutherland with the southern part of Sydney. The bridge is over 600 metres long, suspended on nine, 36m high piers. These hollow piers become narrow in size towards the top. The formwork for this structure was vital to the integrity of the bridge. When the concrete was poured inside the formwork panels, it had to be vibrated as thoroughly as possible to eradicate any air bubbles which could affect the mechanical resistance of the structure and the final appearance of the bridge.
And, of course, when the formwork was removed, the piers had to emerge from the mould perfectly!
Still sound simple? Correct formwork is the basis of a safe and sound structure and a valuable qualification in the building and construction industry.