New cluster member FormFlow has been awarded Judges Finalist in Season 4 of Channel 10’s “Australia by Design: Innovations” television series for its reimagining of the use of the nation’s beloved corrugated metal.
The FormFlow Bend — a one-piece joint in corrugated steel that does away with the need for capping of separate sheet sections — was celebrated in Episode 2 of the program, which showcases Australian innovation, ingenuity and design excellence.
Impressed by what you saw? Vote for FormFlow in the People’s Choice award.
The world-first invention achieves what was thought impossible — the ability to create sharp bends in corrugated iron – and is in the running to be crowned the winner of 40 ideas featured in the series. The bend technology revolutionises the design and construction industry by delivering smooth transitions between corrugated sheet sections at a range of angles.
For the first time, there is no need for flashing or complex corner design – just a clean and distinctive interlocking join. The game-changing process, which has architects rethinking design and developers reimagining what’s possible, can produce sharp bends perpendicular to the corrugations.
“It is a structural joint and it has all sorts of benefits and it looks great,” FormFlow MD Matthew Dingle says. “Before this, if you wanted to connect bits of the roof or bits of the wall, you needed to put two flat sheets and a cover over the top. Now you can do it in one piece.”
Dr Dingle, who co-founded Carbon Revolution in 2007, was formerly lead engineer at Ford’s Product Development Facility in Geelong during the 1990s and later lectured at Deakin University, which is backing Geelong-based FormFlow’s patented process.
Matthias Weiss, Research & Development Director, says that at the “Eureka moment” when the FormFlow Bend was proven, 10 engineers were present, with “all of them standing there saying it couldn’t be done.”
“Then it came out perfect. We were very proud and very excited about the future,” says Dr Weiss, who has been involved in sheet metal forming research at Deakin University for the last eight years.
Deakin’s disruptr platform explains that Origami and its folding of corrugated sheets of paper was the genesis for the innovation after a breakthrough by Australian cousins Jim and John Duncan, whose discovery of the geometric theorems governing the folding of curved surfaces was published by the Royal Society in London in 1992.
These surfaces, called folded developables, could now be designed in computer-aided design (CAD) systems. John Duncan was a mentor to both Dr Dingle and Dr Weiss during their PhD studies, and together they produced the first scientifically-designed forming system to fold corrugated sheet and make the FormFlow bend.
This opens a whole range of new possibilities for the structure of any building – offering new ways to form, assemble and manage building projects.
BlueScope Steel subsidiary Lysaght has added the C90 FormFlow Bend to its product suite under an exclusive Australia wide licence.
“We looked at teaming up with the best and so we approached BlueScope and they were really interested in what we were doing,” says Dr Dingle.
Traditionally, to achieve a sharp bend between corrugated sheet sections, the only option was to use a capping or flashing. The FormFlow ‘no gaps’ solution provides better insulation, makes outer cladding watertight and airtight, eliminates ingress of dirt and small animals, lowers risk of ember attack and improves bushfire performance.
The distinctive and “clean” interlocking join is stronger than a conventional corner and more beautiful.
“If you get the geometry right you can form a complex bend like that without stretching or crushing the material. We have managed to form all sorts of different steel grades with different coatings — we formed aluminium –paving the way for a real structural solution.”Matthew Dingle, FormFlow Managing Director
This ‘no gaps’ wall cladding and roofing solution can improve overall energy efficiencies and reduce a building’s environmental impact, FormFlow says. It enables corrugated sheeting to be used as a structural skin, reducing the need for additional internal framing while greatly improving assembly efficiency and overall appearance.
“The result is a stronger and ultra-functional building envelope that morphs the utilitarian aesthetic of corrugated iron into a stylish architectural statement,” the company says.
One of FormFlow’s future developments includes using the bend as a core top hat section to produce a structural panel, offering a self supporting structure for “a completely new building system”.
Australia by design has gathered a group of Australian and international design industry leaders by zoom tasked with the job of judging each innovation and selecting finalists before ultimately crowning one design of the winning innovation of the series.
Joining the Advanced Fibre Cluster Geelong
FormFlow was “spurred on by the great initiatives of the Advanced Fibre Cluster Geelong” to become a member and get actively involved, explains Technology Manager, Nick Bernard.
“FormFlow has come on board with the recycling project, helping to identify and commercialise some end-uses for recycled fibre waste right here in Geelong,” he says.
“We’re proud to have joined the amazing group of companies in the Cluster.”
The company is keen to develop innovative waste solutions and re-use and re-manufacturing opportunities in the construction sector.