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Formwork comes in several types:

1. Traditional timber formwork. The formwork is built on site out


of timber and plywood or moisture-resistant particleboard. It is easy to produce but
time-consuming for larger structures, and the plywood facing has a relatively short
lifespan. It is still used extensively where the labour costs are lower than the costs
for procuring reusable formwork. It is also the most flexible type of formwork, so
even where other systems are in use, complicated sections may use it.
2. Engineered Formwork System. This formwork is built out of prefabricated modules
with a metal frame (usually steel or aluminium) and covered on the application
(concrete) side with material having the wanted surface structure (steel, aluminum,
timber, etc.). The two major advantages of formwork systems, compared to
traditional timber formwork, are speed of construction (modular systems pin, clip,
or screw together quickly) and lower life-cycle costs (barring major force, the frame
is almost indestructible, while the covering if made of wood; may have to be
replaced after a few - or a few dozen - uses, but if the covering is made with steel
or aluminium the form can achieve up to two thousand uses depending on care
and the applications).
3. Re-usable plastic formwork. These interlocking and modular systems are used to
build widely variable, but relatively simple, concrete structures. The panels are
lightweight and very robust. They are especially suited for similar structure projects
and low-cost, mass housing schemes.
4. Permanent Insulated Formwork. This formwork is assembled on site, usually out of
insulating concrete forms (ICF). The formwork stays in place after the concrete has
cured, and may provide advantages in terms of speed, strength,
superior thermal and acoustic insulation, space to run utilities within the EPS layer,
and integrated furring strip for cladding finishes.
5. Stay-In-Place structural formwork systems. This formwork is assembled on site,
usually out of prefabricated fiber-reinforced plastic forms. These are in the shape of
hollow tubes, and are usually used for columns and piers. The formwork stays in
place after the concrete has cured and acts as axial and shear reinforcement, as
well as serving to confine the concrete and prevent against environmental effects,
such as corrosion and freeze-thaw cycles.
6. Flexible formwork. In contrast to the rigid moulds described above, flexible
formwork is a system that uses lightweight, high strength sheets of fabric to take
advantage of the fluidity of concrete and create highly optimised, architecturally
interesting, building forms. Using flexible formwork it is possible to cast optimised
structures that use significantly less concrete than an equivalent strength prismatic
section,[1] thereby offering the potential for significant embodied energy savings in
new concrete structures.