Reusable composite concrete forms save time, signal market potential

SABIC Innovative Plastics on Oct. 5 unveiled a new one-piece, reusable concrete form concept made from the company’s high-performance LNP Verton long-glass fiber-reinforced composite material.

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SABIC Innovative Plastics (Pittsfield, Mass.) on Oct. 5 unveiled a new one-piece, reusable concrete form concept made from the company’s high-performance LNP Verton long-glass fiber-reinforced composite material. The new corrosion-resistant composite forms were developed by SABIC and Meccano de Mexico (Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico), a construction-supply company, to replace traditional but heavy multipiece steel forms. The composite material reportedly reduces form weight by as much as 40 percent. This is particularly important for construction of government-subsidized housing or other projects where containing costs is a concern. The lightweight LNP Verton compound (20 percent lighter than aluminum and 40 percent lighter than carbon steel) allows the forms to be transported and maneuvered on site more easily and without the need for specialized equipment or cranes. Further, fabrication of traditional metal forms requires assembly of as many as 30 different components and can take up to three hours.

SABIC claims that reduced weight and simplified assembly enables concrete crews to cut form installation cycle times and reduce overall construction costs. By eliminating the need for assembly with a one-piece design, Meccano’s forms can be readied for a pour in minutes. 

Meccano’s new forms are used to mold concrete house panels; on average, 500 panels are required for a typical row house. The forms are available in a wide range of sizes and configurations. The average height is 1,100 mm/3.7 ft, and different widths (200 mm/0.8 ft, 300 mm/1 ft and 600 mm/2 ft) are available. The forms are expected to significantly increase throughput and will potentially enable contractors to build homes more quickly and, thus, reduce overall costs.

“SABIC provided the material technology, technical expertise and local presence that allowed us to successfully develop and commercialize this breakthrough product for our customers,” says Salvador Jalife Lozano, Meccano’s chief innovation and development officer. “Using LNP Verton composite, our new concrete forms can give contractors exceptional benefits, including significant time savings, easier handling and durability for repeated use. These molds have the potential to change the way concrete panels are formed on the job site, helping to streamline construction and provide a competitive advantage.”

James LeGacy, SABIC’s general manager for the Americas, noted that replacing metal forms with LNP Verton compound material is a major step forward in building and construction because it addresses industry demands for better materials, greater speed, lower costs and improved ease of use: “We are very pleased to have played a part in the success of this new application and believe it will be a true game changer for the construction industry worldwide.”

Editor’s note: Composite concrete forms also are playing a key behind-the-scenes role in shaping an in-progress architectural masterpiece in Barcelona, Spain. See link at right.