Modular Interconnecting Formwork System
The Modular Interconnecting Formwork System (MIFS) is currently a proposal to utilise a mix of compatible hard plastic, concrete and expanded polystyrene bricks and other forms as a construction aid, with a particular focus on reducing waste from conventional formwork systems, and in making earth building more economical. The primary component of MIFS is going to be based on the design of the Precious Plastics Brick, developed by open source researchers in the Netherlands as a way to turn plastic waste into useful construction materials. The Precious Plastics Bricks are strong, lightweight, and connect in a similar manner to lego bricks. The MIF system proposes to produce some, or all of the formwork necessary for construction by building temporary walls with these plastic bricks, as well as compatible concrete bricks, that would remain part of the structure, and insulating polystyrene bricks, either as a permanent, or temporary feature of the buildings. The development of the concept will continue as part of the Precious Plastic Brick experiments; a research project underway by some of the team who launched Recyclopaedia.
By producing formwork from modular components, that have long lifespans, and that are produced with materials and shapes that fit specialised purposes on the construction site, it is hoped that the system will be easy, and economical to use, as well as more environmentally friendly than competing methods. Using recycled materials, such as plastic from E-waste, which very often ends up in landfill, and/or manufacturing techniques such as compression molding, which allow large plastic parts to be made from more heavily contaminated feedstocks, will help to reduce the environmental impact of producing these tools. By supplanting traditional formwork, which is often made from timber products, which are routinely treated as single use, the MIF system should reduce waste at construction sites. And additionally, by providing an easy to assemble, and reinforce, formwork structure, low embodied energy materials such as rammed earth should become more economical, compared to current, more popular forms of masonry such as bricklaying and concrete walls.
Illustrations, tutorials, concept renders & communication aids
A variety of scale models, concept renders, and a proposed building design have been produced, in order to aid in communication, marketing and pilot demonstration of the formwork. Tutorials will follow shortly.
Machined steel brick mould
New tooling has been designed and produced, to enable the production of bricks to exacting tolerances, with sharp corners, and flat exterior surfaces, to ensure the resulting formwork is fit for purpose. The materials for the tooling are cheap to purchase. The machining steps are mostly straightfoward and possible with a basic metalworking space, and a few options for tool operation are possible due to the way it is assembled. The brick mould can be internally heated to assist in plastic flow.
Semi-automatic brick making tool
A compression moulding device has been designed as part of the project, to aid with flow rate, and in producing bricks with minimal effects from shrinkage as the plastic sets. This tool attaches to the brick mould, and presses the internal profile of the brick mould into the plastic, to produce the geometry of the brick.
Construction of a small building, with concrete walls is underway in rural Victoria, to demonstrate the practical use of the formwork bricks on a live construction site.