Steel frame and plywood forms are still the norm on many jobsites.
Steel frame and plywood forms are still the norm on many jobsites.

The last 50 years have seen significant changes in the formulations of concrete, but one thing hasn't changed: concrete forming technology is still all about productivity. Arguably the greatest single innovation in concrete forming was the introduction of the Steel-Ply System by Symons Corporation in 1955. Steel-Ply's dramatic productivity enhancement over job-built forming, plus it's modular design with steel frame and specially-manufactured plywood, wedge bolt locking system, and ability to be renovated affordably caused it to become the industry standard. The time and expense of job-built forming is now a rarity.

About 15 years ago, visitors to the World of Concrete were given their first look at the highly-engineered steel forming systems then in use in Europe. Prior to that, the domestic heavy forming market was dominated by EFCO and the Symons. Since then, a literal “European Invasion” has taken place, with systems being imported by Doka, Peri, Meva, and Hunnebeck—all from Germany plus AlisPly (Symons) and ULMA, imported from Spain. These systems, which are generally assembled into a gang form and thus are productive for larger pours, all require a crane on the jobsite, common in Europe but less so in the U.S. Recently some of these companies have begun to develop lightweight versions that can be hand set.

—Bill Kimball

Read more highlights from 50 Years of Concrete Construction Progress.