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Innovative timber framing firm has different take on construction

Business

A New Zealand construction framing system that can be used to sustainably build a range of reconfigurable structures has set up base in Adelaide as it prepares to launch to market later this year.

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Kiwi Ged Finch founded reconfigurable structural timber framing system X-Frame while at architecture school in 2017 as a way to reduce construction waste and help transition the building industry towards a circular economy.

The business established its headquarters last year at the Tonsely Innovation District after working with South Australian-based commercial innovation incubator Innovyz and Green Industries South Australia to begin commercialising the framing system.

X-Frame enables adjoining wall layers – like wall linings and claddings – to be reversibly connected through panels of plywood, which interlock and click together like pieces of Lego.

The company says it uses “carbon negative” engineering timber material and components to develop the reusable frames.

X-Frame Australia general manager Casten Dethlefsen said the manufacturing process itself further reduced waste through a precise cutting system.

“If you look at a typical house, you’ll get a pile of sticks delivered on site that are then cut by a carpenter and put together to create the frame. In that you’ve got an enormous amount of waste that ends up in a skip,” he said.

“With X-Frame … it all comes in a kit with an instruction manual that is clipped together on site, so there’s no waste on site at all.”

Dethlefsen said the business had spent the past 12 months “working through all of the engineering” and was now in a position to deliver a range of commercial products from its Adelaide-based home.

X-Frame has been used for a range of commercial projects, reducing waste. Image: X-Frame.

It comes as X-Frame last week announced it had completed a $485,000 maiden capital raise to help assist with the project design and development.

Dethlefsen said the funding would enable the fledgling business to complete development of its online store, allowing consumers to select products and colours, which would be manufactured through global partners, including Workspace Commercial Furniture in South Australia.

He said the online store would launch after July, coinciding with an official launch to market, and target the commercial office market with its series of reconfigurable freestanding spaces such as meeting rooms, phone booths and work pods.

“What we’re developing is a system that pretty much any architect could grab, design up what it is they want to design and deliver it in X-Frame rather than in steel frame or timber frame,” Dethlefsen said.

“They are all very modular solutions and given COVID and the desire of a lot of companies to refit their offices to provide more separation between employees, that’s where X-Frame is ideal.

“It’s prefabricated offsite and can be brought together and stood up and then when things change again or an office needs to be reconfigured again it can be pulled apart.”

He said the business was also developing a “bespoke arm” of “custom design” frames that could be tailored to individual building projects such as art gallery exhibitions or “tiny homes”.

“It’s a different way of delivering accommodation,” Dethlefsen said.

“Because X-Frame in that instance is very modular and repeatable … you can assemble the panels using low-skilled employment and create employment opportunities.

“The plywood is produced locally, its manufactured locally and assembled by the person that’s going to be living in it.”

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