3D printing has had to overcome plenty of obstacles, including materials, mobility, weather, and height. Slowly, but surely, technology companies are beginning to overcome these challenges. A 400 square foot house was recently printed in concrete on-site, in less than 24 hours and in freezing temperatures. Other companies are working on perfecting 3D printed steel for pedestrian bridges. Height limitations seem to be the hardest problem to solve, however.
That is until Cazza Construction Technologies, a Dubai based firm, announced its plans to build the world’s first 3d printed skyscraper. While no details or timeline for the project have been announced yet, Cazza told Construction Week Online that the building would use a technology they’ve developed called “crane printing.”
“Crane printing” simply involves retrofitting an existing crane with a 3d printing apparatus. These devices will be installed on cranes that can reach as high as 262 feet (80m). “We are adding new features to make it adaptable to high wind speeds along with the use of our layer smoothing system that creates completely flat surfaces. You won’t know its 3D printed,” Cazza COO Fernando De Los Rios told Construction Week Online.
It’s expected that the major structural components will be included in the 3d printing side of the construction. There will still be some other aspects that will be handled by traditional construction methods. As we saw in the video of the 3D printed house, all glazing, painting, electrical, plumbing, and several other trades were still completed by human labor.
It’s entirely fitting that the world’s first 3d printed skyscraper would be located in the UAE, as the government has made it a priority. Dubai is also the home to the world’s first 3D printed office building and has committed to 3D printing 25% of homes built in 2030.
There’s no shortage of company’s trying to improve the world’s roadways. Asphalt and concrete each have their own disadvantages, especially when maintenance environmental factors are taken into consideration. Plastic is a major problem for landfills, as well, as it can take an estimated 500 years to fully decompose. One UK company believes they can solve both maintenance and environmental problems through the use of recycled plastic.
Feeling the pressure of 9 straight quarters with a decline in total revenue, Caterpillar has acquired the equipment sharing startup, Yard Club, to get help dig themselves out of the dirt. Their most recent quarter was the company’s first positive revenue quarter since November of 2012.
I’m a firm believer that before robots start taking over construction jobs, we’ll first be working with robotics to make workers more efficient and our job sites more functional. Instead of using 3D printing robots to build an entire project, why not use them first to create intricate details and bring character back to buildings? Instead of pushing human labor out of the way, why not use robotics to enhance the abilities of our workers, to improve their health and productivity? With rise in development commercial exoskeletons, workers will soon be able to harness additional strength by just slipping on a suit.
Last year, Tesla announced a new disruptive product to the market in the form of solar roof shingles. Unlike traditional solar roof panels, these shingles mimic the look of traditional terra cotta, clay, and slate tiles, creating a more aesthetically pleasing look. This week, the company began taking pre-orders for the roof shingles and also released a cost calculator.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is constantly researching ways to improve construction process and materials, like this material 10 times the strength of steel, or this solar cell that’s lighter than a soap bubble, or this “reversible concrete.” This time the Institute is showing off its autonomous robot that can spit out building structures on site within hours.
Tracking employees instantaneously is a dream scenario for employers. It gives them tons of data to analyze to determine where money can be saved and where resources can be placed to be most efficient. The struggle is convincing the employees that tracking their every move is not going to get them in trouble or fired. There’s a balance in there somewhere and that’s the challenge facing both employers and tech companies right now.
Two of the most critical concepts of construction safety are the ability to see what you’re doing and to also be seen by others around you. Construction workers rely heavily on their employer providing lighting systems when working in low light conditions, but those systems are not always adequate.
There’s no doubt that the construction industry is behind when it comes to technology, but things are beginning to change. In the past few years, our industry has seen millions of dollars poured into new technology, including smartphone apps, advanced construction materials, and advanced safety equipment. One of the struggles –and perhaps the main struggle- with introducing new technology to the field staff is that many of them have been managing their jobs the same way for a long time. It can be difficult to convince them to change, especially if they have been successful with their current process.
It’s that time again to begin Construction Junkie’s annual search for the best construction podcast! Last year, newcomer to the scene ConTechTrio took home the crown for best podcast and they’re continuing to make waves on the platform, with interviews with heavy hitter guests from the world of construction each episode. 2015’s winner was Cesar Abeid’s Construction Industry Podcast, but unfortunately there have not been any new shows released since August of 2015.
read on to nominate your favorite podcast