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To answer this question, one must fully understand the effect of formwork on the temperature of concreting structure. Without doubt, with better insulation of structure by timber formwork, the overall rise of temperature and hence the peak hydration temperature is also increased. However, for a well-insulated structure, the temperature gradient across concrete element is reduced. Therefore, the use of well-insulated formwork (like timber) increases the maximum temperature and reduces the temperature gradient across the structure at the same time. Hence, whether steel or timber formwork should be used to control thermal cracking is dependent on the restraints and the size of section.
If the section under consideration is thick and internal restraint is the likely cause to thermal cracking, then timber formwork should be used. On the other hand, if external restraint is the main concern for thermal cracking, then steel formwork should be used instead.