Engineers remake Aussie icon

A small start-up formed by Institute for Frontier Materials senior research fellow Dr Matthias Weiss and Carbon Revolution co-founder, Dr Matt Dingle is bringing a step change to the future of corrugated iron.

The young company, FormFlow, which has patented its innovative process, is operating from Deakin’s ManuFutures innovation hub.

The steps to the new process began with IFM Honorary Professor John Duncan and his late brother Jim, who published the geometric theorems governing the folding of curved surfaces in 1992. Using modern, computer aided design (CAD) technology, John Duncan, together with Drs Weiss and Dingle went on to produce the first scientifically designed forming system to fold corrugated sheet and make the FormFlow bend.

The stand-out feature of FormFlow is its potential to apply revolutionary technology on a broad scale. It opens a whole range of possibilities for the structure of any building – offering new ways to form, assemble and manage building projects.

Unlike vehicle production, which has become fully automated, and uses robotic production lines to limit construction errors and waste, the building industry is still relatively low tech.

The FormFlow technology will potentially help builders construct a new building with higher performance at a fraction of the cost.

In a recent project known as ‘prefab21’, FormFlow, together with Deakin University Chair in Architecture, Professor James Doerfler and 14 undergraduate students, has developed a modular building system that lends itself to new prefabrication technologies oriented on those used in the automotive industry. The house will be installed at Samaritan house in Geelong to provide temporary shelter for homeless men.

FormFlow bends are structurally stiff and strong, airtight, with an attractive seamless appearance. The process eliminates the need for capping and improves energy efficiency and fire resistance. The bends can be made at a number of angles, with the 90-degree angle of particular interest to builders.

Dr Matt Dingle (left) and Dr Matthias Weiss with samples made using the unique Formflow bending technique.

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