Modular Interconnecting Formwork System

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Concept render of MIFS in use.

The Modular Interconnecting Formwork System (MIFS) is a pilot project aimed at demonstrating the use of 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.

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.

Major Project components[edit]

The main building block of MIFS is a design inspired by the Precious Plastics Brick. It is intended to be a way to turn current waste streams of plastic into a useful building product. The brick is lightweight, strong, and connects in a similar manner to lego bricks. The MIFS project has demonstrated the construction of formwork composed almost completely of these plastic bricks, and the team intends to show how to integrate this system with other forms made using contemporary methods such as CNC routing and wire cutting. A library of intellectual property describing how to make each component will be built to enable the formwork system to be utilised for any required geometry.

Illustrations, tutorials, concept renders & communication aids[edit]

Main article(s):MIFS gallery

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.

How to build forms with MIFS[edit]

A basic formwork can be erected using MIFS in a relatively straightforward fashion, utilising the lego-like nature of the bricks. Special care, as with any type of formwork, must be paid to securing the formwork to the ground, and bracing the forms against the static load of the intended building material. The detailed guide linked above provides a solid description of how MIFS can be used to build a concrete wall.

Brick tooling[edit]

Main article(s):MIFS tooling

Machined Brick Mould[edit]

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[edit]

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.

The first wall constructed using MIFS.

Complimentary formworking tools[edit]

To aid in the construction, bracing, and shape of formwork a variety of existing off the shelf products, and CNC'd forms can or must be used.

Demonstration structure[edit]

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.

External Links[edit]