A revolutionary modular framing system that can be pulled apart and reconfigured like a giant Lego kit could help accelerate recovery efforts from catastrophic floods.
Tonsley-based technology platform XFrame believes its fully customisable flat-pack wall framing system, which allows for the rapid construction and removal of walls and ceilings, could help businesses recover faster from flood damage.
So much so, managing director Carsten Dethlefsen says the company has worked with ANZ to “flood proof” a bank branch in the flood-ravaged NSW town of Lismore, which bore the brunt of the 2022 summer floods.
“We have managed to demonstrate how, by using marine-grade plywood instead of standard plywood, we can deliver a store that if it gets flooded, you can take lighting panels off, let them dry, clean them up and clip the panels back on again,” Mr Dethlefsen said.
“Hopefully there is not another flood, but we have done all our research and based on the work we’ve done, including submerging tests, the marine-grade material should stand up.
“It can withstand water for up to 48 hours which is a huge benefit over standard plywood which soaks the water up like a sponge.”
The Lismore branch is among 20 branches ANZ is transforming with XFrame technology under the bank’s Breathe retail experience, which is about delivering carbon-neutral branch design. All but the Lismore branch have been fitted out with the conventional plywood.
XFrame offers a structural frame capable of facilitating the recovery and reuse of almost all building layers including frames, insulation and cladding, meaning less building waste.
The panels used in the ANZ project are manufactured at Tonsley by XFrame’s exclusive Australian manufacturing partner the Collectiv Group using a standard computer-controlled wood routing machine.
Cladding, linings and glazing can be clicked on to or secured to the precisely engineered, fully customisable wall framing system using common hand-held tools, such as a rubber mallet. The process enables installation to happen in days, rather than weeks using standard construction methods.
XFrame was developed by Ged Finch at Victoria University, Wellington, NZ and incubated and commercialised with the help of Tonsley’s accelerator program Innovyz and Green Industries SA, which together were instrumental in XFrame’s maiden $485,000 capital raise in 2020.
The company raised a further $500,000 in January 2022 and Innovyz took the lead on raising another $1 million in December 2022 to drive XFrame’s growth.
“Innovyz manage our capital raise strategy for us and that allows us to focus on the technology,” Mr Dethlefsen said, adding the company’s revenue for the 2022/23 financial year is tracking 12 times higher than the previous fiscal year.
He said XFrame is in discussions with one of America’s largest commercial office fit-out companies – which has 11 manufacturing facilities and generates more than $600 million in annual revenue – to “plug-in” the XFrame technology into its product range.
“What it means is they can expand their product range overnight,” Mr Dethlefsen said.
“And because we use a lot of plywood, we’re not seeing the same supply issues (as other timber) which is a big advantage; the sovereign manufacturing potential is huge, particularly when you talk to manufacturers in North America.”
The company is also looking to expand into Scandinavia.
Mr Dethlefsen said that collaboration at Tonsley, particularly through Innovyz and Collectiv Group, has been integral to XFrame’s strong growth trajectory.
“With the Collectiv Group we just spoke to them, they invested in machinery, did a lot of research and development prototyping with us and they’ve grown their manufacturing capabilities off the back of XFrame,” he said.
“We have the technology piece, but we’ve also got the product validation and that’s where Collectiv Group has really assisted to grow that.”
Mr Dethlefsen said Collectiv Group had one milling machine at the start of 2022, and now has three operating full-time to meet XFrame demand.
Having a pool of manufacturers co-located at Tonsley, meant XFrame didn’t have to look far for a partner.
“We have got everything we need here at Tonsley; we can grow without having to move again, which is really unique,” he said.
Mr Dethlefsen has a long connection to Tonsley; he was the District’s commercial development manager from 2012-2017, helping to draw businesses to Adelaide’s south. He is amazed by how it has matured in the past decade.
“The innovation, it’s everywhere,” he said. “Some of the collaborations and some of the businesses and solutions that have been spun out of the university, just blows you away; there’s always something new.
“If you want to be in an innovative space, this is the kind of place to be.”
From offices to event stands to retail outlets and phone booths, XFrame is continually innovating as it transforms construction at the click of a panel. And perhaps it won’t be long before we see an XFrame inspired house.
“We have done a bit of work in the background and what we know is we can automate the design and fabrication of roof trusses, so in effect create an X-Frame roof truss,” Mr Dethlefsen said.
“But we need to build out that capability. That is the next step we are looking at because we could then have an integrated solution that can be customised to clients.”
For more information about XFrame visit xframe.com.au
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