More and more architects, engineers and contractors are using concrete not only as a structural construction material, but also as a means of architectural art and expression.
They accomplish this by skillfully adding a textures and patterns to the normally featureless surface of the concrete. Creating these effects requires proper use of the concrete form liners that serve as a secondary mold inside the primary structural forming systems and impose the chosen patterns onto the curing concrete. The results can be stunning and add a whole new dimension to architectural and engineering design.
What this means is that formliners are assuming a more important role in the overall design and construction process. Architects, engineers and builders must know formliner properties and what types of form liner to use for a given project. They must know where to look for specific formliners patterns, how to specify the proper liners for different substructures, and how to build formliners into the overall scheduling and procurement process. This may sound easy, but it is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced as part of professional training.
While formliners provide an artistic means of expression, the use of them requires detailed and specific knowledge. An architect may have to decide between using single-use polystyrene formliners that are discarded and multi-use ABS formliners that can be used up to ten times or more. He or she may have to decide whether to use a plastic formliner, an urethane formliner, or a premium elastomeric type that combines resilience and high tensile strength. Picking one or the other means trade-offs between durability, quality and cost, and can thus have a significant impact on budgets.
Learning how to best use formliners requires not only training and experience, but also teamwork and cooperation with the chosen formliner maker. Selecting one may be via bidding process or simply working with a company that offers a suitably large product selection and the desired level of service. A good formliner company will be able to generate custom tooled patterns when a specified design is not commercially available. They will also have trained staff capable of interpreting complex contract plans and producing detailed shop drawings. Being able to adhere to production schedules and costs is mandatory for a formliner company, as is making sure that all their products meet Department of Transportation specs. Formliner makers are also called upon to provide expert advice on proper trimming, attachment to formwork, optimal placement of ties, and the use of rustications at joints to for a continuous, cohesive look.
If you're in the construction industry and seek to make use of concrete form liners, keep the above in mind when selecting a company to work with. If you're not very familiar with formliners, check out one of the available catalogs to get an idea of the wealth of textures and patterns available. Whether it's brick, block, rock, wood grain, flutes or fins, it's all available in numerous looks and designs, and new patterns are being added all the time. Concrete used to have a reputation as a stark, drab construction material. Thanks to formliners, that is no longer the case.
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Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing companies.
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