Enhanced flow MDO stands up to tough mixes

When it comes to choosing the right concrete forming panel for the job, there is one point that builders need to be very aware of, says Olympic Panel’s Hal Studer:

“This is not your grandfather’s concrete mix you’re working with today.”








Concrete mixes are now more highly alkaline than before. “The most expensive ingredient in concrete is cement,” Studer explains. “So it’s pretty common now for other materials to be added to concrete mixes—things like fly ash from coal burning power generating plants and blast furnace slag from steel manufacturing—that reduce cost and also improve concrete properties.”

To create the type of high-strength, fast-set concrete required by many new high-tech buildings, Studer says, reducing the amount of water in the mix is also critical. “When you reduce the amount of water in concrete mix, you increase the strength, at least up to a certain point.”

The downside? These mixes raise the alkalinity of concrete. And that’s tough on conform panels. BBOEs will give 3 to 5 uses per panel on average; regular medium density overlays will yield 12 to 15 uses each. But with an enhanced or high-flow MDO, builders can get 2 to 5 more uses out of each panel than with regular MDO, thanks to an overlay that is more abrasion- and alkaline-resistant.

Arclin’s Enhanced Flow Medium Density Overlay uses a slightly different resin—and much more resin—than standard panels, giving it greater resistance to the alkalinity of modern concrete mixes. The more resin in a panel overlay, the longer the panel lasts. And, says Studer, “the performance of these panels is more consistent than that of BBOEs.”

Even when MDO panels are priced higher than BBOEs, the cost per pour is reduced by using the engineered panels, according to Arclin’s Gordon White. “If you get 5 re-uses out of BBOE, the cost per pour is about $5,” he explains. “With a standard MDO panel, you can get 15 to 20 re-uses, and the cost per pour goes down to as little as $1.75 per pour, depending on the job and the type of panel used.”

White goes on to say “In recent independent test pours, performed by Nox-Crete,, high-flow panels with Arclin’s Enhanced Flow overlays outperformed the competitive overlay that has been the industry standard.”

These tests used a highly alkaline concrete mix design with a water-to-cement ratio of 0.33. While Arclin’s Enhanced Flow 3369 showed little deterioration after 15 pours, the competitive overlay developed surface cracks after 5 pours and was worn out before the 15th pour White explains.


This is it — the inaugural issue of Conform Inform, a quarterly newsletter from Arclin, focused solely on concrete forming with overlaid panels. (The excitement is palpable, isn’t it?)  But We have hundreds of games and promotions, impressive jackpots and the best odds there are. this is important stuff.  We’ll talk here about conform benefits, share usage tips, troubleshoot some common problems, and hopefully make life a little easier for our customers, distributors, builders, architects and spec writers — anyone charged with creating quality concrete surfaces, saving jobsite time and money, and looking out for the environmental impact of their efforts.

Questions, comments, suggestions — or want to contribute?  Contact us at conform.inform@arclin.com.

Concrete Forming 101

We’ll dig deeper, certainly, but for you, your customers and those not yet acclimated to the what’s and why’s of concrete forming (conform), here’s a primer:

What is conform?  Concrete forming panels or conform are paper overlaid substrate panels (typically plywood) used for concrete forming.

What’s the upside to using conform?  Conform is host to a variety of benefits over raw BBOES Plyform panels, namely it:

  • enables significant panel re-use, as panels are easily removed from dried concrete surfaces and the overlay keeps water from seeping into and undermining substrates.  This significantly reduces material and labor costs, and eliminates a lot of unnecessary jobsite waste
  • ensures a consistent, quality surface (a variety of surface options are available)
  • boasts serious environmental benefits, as it enables the use of sustainably harvested trees, is available with FSC®-certified papers and can contribute to LEED credits for material re-use and waste reduction

How is it made?  Resin saturated papers are applied to substrates during manufacturing to create an indelible bond and enhance panel durability.  The amount and chemistry of the resin is determined based on end-use application.  Arclin, for example, creates a variety of overlays for use with virtually any type of concrete construction, concrete mix and jobsite factors.

What do I need to know about selecting the right conform for a job?  Here’s a quick view of the types and applications of conform panels from Arclin (our competitors’ overlays may differ somewhat; we’re happy to answer any of your questions about the right panel type for your job.

We’ll dive into more details with subsequent issues of Conform Inform and blog posts.  Let us know what you want to know — or what you think would be helpful to your downstream customers.

Release Agents — Choosing the Right One

contributor:  Mike Linn, President, Nox-Crete

There are a number of variables for consideration in determining the right conform panel selection.  Once you’ve made that selection, it is equally important that you choose the right release agent.  The wrong form release can reduce the number of pours per panel, stain the concrete and potentially mar the surface.  The plywood substrate is the most expensive material component of concrete pouring and labor is at a premium — don’t overlook this critical step.

A form release agent is a chemical coating between panel and concrete surface.  Its importance is attributable to a number of things:

  1. The release agent supplements the overlay’s ability to keep alkaline water from seeping into the plywood substrate.  (Alkaline water can cause the wood fibers to swell and create cracks in the substrate, which can cause wood failure and undermine surface quality when the panel is removed)
  2. Without the right release agent, the form may be more inclined to stick to the concrete surface as it dries, destructive to the panel and to the concrete finish
  3. Inferior release agents (typically petroleum-based releases) can stain the concrete; the right release agent won’t

Many modern release agents are also water-based — Nox-Crete uses an organic fatty acid derived from plants that chemically creates a waterproof “soap” barrier on the conform panel.  The result is a greener, less expensive-per square foot product.

For more information about choosing the right release agents, contact us here.