Posts tagged with "Construction":

China Int'l Integrated Housing Industry & Building Industrialization Expo (CIHIE 2020)

China, a Growing Power in Prefabricated Building Industry China’s strong push for prefabricated building industry is triggering a 2 trillion yuan market by 2020 and 6.8 trillion yuan by 2025. Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta, and Pearl River Delta will account for 40% share of the nation’s total, forming a 850 billion yuan market. Leading homegrown brands are emerging, and international brands are also welcome to tap into the Chinese market. Preview of CIHIE 2020 Supported by the Housing and Urban-Rural Development Ministry of Housing Industrialization Promotion Cent er, CIHIE has been one of the biggest prefabricated building expos. For the 2020 show, CIHIE will receive 350+ exhibitors on a 32,000 sq.m show floor. Among all concurrent events, Global Prefabricated & Industrialized Building Development Summit 2020 is the most attracting one for its excellent speaker lineup and wonderful speeches. Review of CIHIE 2019 CIHIE 2019 attracted many state-recognized industry leaders, like Zhongmin Steel Structures, China State Construction, Shenzhen Yaxin Construction Steel Structure Engineering, BSCC, Duowei Union Group, Country Garden, BNBM HOUSE, and so on, alongside dozens of overseas brands, including Civil Construction, Dominion House, Ficus Consulting Group, Vertex, Green Prefab, Marusugi, Nichiha, etc. Buyers from 73 countries and regions participated in the show, including those leading in the industry, such as Japan, Canada, USA, France, Germany, AU & NZ and etc. Exhibition Scope
  • Prefabricated & Modular Housing, Container Homes, Wooden houses
  • Precast Concrete & EPC
  • Related Machinery & Equipment
  • Passive House Construction;
  • Intelligent system: Prefabricated component design; BIM technology development
  • Architectural Design: The Latest Concept of Architectural Design
  • Related products: Green Building Materials and Equipment(Roof tiles, wall heat insulation materials, exterior wall decorated panel, waterproofing, roof heat insulation material, heat insulation coatings, fireproof materials, aerated concrete block, ceramist concrete block, integrated suspended ceiling, roof and vertical greening materials, etc.)
Guangdong Grandeur International Exhibition Group Contact Person: Sarah Mobile&What's App:+86 13539992305 Email:winnie0516@hotmail.com;grand.xi@grahw.com  Website: http://gz.cihie.net/index.php?lang=en  
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Greece floats plan for refugee-deterring sea wall

The Greek government has announced plans for a floating barrier in the Aegean Sea, meant to slow the movement of asylum-seeking migrants arriving on the country’s North Aegean Islands via boat from mainland Turkey. Envisioned as a sort of buoyant maritime version of the Trump Administration’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, the netted blockade would stretch 1.7 miles off the northern coast of Lesbos, Greece’s third-largest island and home to the notoriously ill-equipped and overcrowded Moria refugee camp. Per Reuters, the barrier could potentially extend over nine miles if the initial segment is found to be an effective deterrence tool by Greece’s Defense Ministry. Plans call for the floating wall to rise above sea level by nearly two feet and be topped with flashing lights so that it's visible in the dark of night. While there’s currently no clear start or completion date for the estimated $545,000 undertaking, The New York Times reports that the search for private contractors to erect the barricade is underway and a selection will be made within three months. Government officials are confident that a floating sea wall will successfully thwart refugees attempting to reach Greece’s northeastern islands, pointing specifically to a barbed wire-laden land barrier built along Greece’s northern border with Turkey in 2012 that officials believe has produced desirable results. “In Evros, physical barriers had a relative impact in curbing flows,” Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos explained to Skai Radio when the proposal was announced late last month. “We believe a similar result can be achieved with these floating barriers.” Although Panagiotopoulos is confident in the plan’s efficacy, the very idea of a refugee-blocking floating fence in the Aegean Sea has been met with swift condemnation from humanitarian groups and former government officials alike, many of which have criticized the idea as being potentially dangerous and likely ineffective—after all, small vessels carrying migrants can simply navigate around the barrier. “The idea that a fence of this length is going to work is totally stupid,” said Greece's former Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas. “It’s not going to stop anybody making the journey.” “This proposal marks an alarming escalation in the Greek government’s ongoing efforts to make it as difficult as possible for asylum-seekers and refugees to arrive on its shores and will lead to more danger for those desperately seeking safety,” warned Massimo Moratti, European research director with Amnesty International, in a press statement. “The government must urgently clarify the operational details and necessary safeguards to ensure that this system does not cost further lives.” Amnesty International notes that roughly 60,000 migrants, largely from war-torn Syria, arrived in Greece by sea in 2019, nearly double the number of arrivals in 2018. From January through October 2019, the International Organization for Migration recorded 66 deaths along maritime migration routes in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
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How will the coronavirus affect global construction commodities?

The coronavirus originating from Wuhan, China, is anticipated to negatively impact the global trade of raw materials in the coming months. According to market analytics company S&P Global Platts, the consumption and processing of commodities like iron ore and steel are likely to dip throughout the country and cause ripple effects in economics throughout the world. What’s not clear is how severe the situation will get. In late January, China announced it would shut down over two-thirds of its economy due to the outbreak that started in Wuhan city. Since the Chinese Lunar New Year began as the virus spread, many companies across the mainland have halted production and construction crews have paused work as an extension of the holiday break. Fourteen provinces, including the major manufacturing hub of Hubei where Wuhan is located, and other metropolitan areas such as the port city of Shanghai, will be on lockdown until next week. Fortune noted that those regions make up 90 percent of the country’s copper smelting, 60 percent of its steel manufacturing, and 40 percent of coal output.  Normally during Lunar New Year, companies stop or reduce production, but the recent three-day extension of the holiday—largely due to transportation restrictions to and from quarantined areas and to encourage people to stay home—may cause an added riff in planned-manufacturing and eventually quarterly sales. Bloomberg noted that any changes in China’s steel industry, specifically, “which accounts for more than half global output, set the tone for producers and users around the world.”  Some experts say the impact won’t be felt until next month—S&P Global Platts said February is typically the weakest time of the year for metal output in China since demand is low due to the holiday. Construction is also normally slow because of the colder weather. London-based analytics organization Argus believes after the extended Lunar New Year break is officially over, the market for products like rebar and coil will drop while “the downstream market will be reduced, pushing back demand for finished steel products.”  Despite these fears, China’s most influential steel group, the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA), called for industry stability and asked steel companies not to inflate steel prices because of the declining demand. Reuters reported that CISA wants mills to “reasonably adjust their production rhythms” and “jointly safeguard hard-won ‘de-capacity’ results” in order to maintain profitability and reach levels of normalcy later in the year.  Both in China and worldwide, the long-term effects of the coronavirus are still up in the air. The World Health Organization reported this week that 24 countries have confirmed cases of the outbreak, though most resulted from contact with people who had come directly from China and Wuhan, where 563 people have died. Meanwhile, China is expected to lift its tariff on coking coal, which is used for making steel soon, leaving some U.S.-based mining companies ready to once again sell in the Chinese market.
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Matt Johnson exhibits construction equipment as sculpture at Blum & Poe

Much of the work produced by Los Angeles-based sculptor Matt Johnson attempts to speak to both the fields of art and architecture by marrying the material language of the latter with the playfulness of the former. An untitled exhibition of his work currently on display at L.A. gallery Blum & Poe demonstrates the artist's ability to take seemingly banal elements familiar to the construction industry—traffic cones, cinder blocks, bricks, rebar—and reconfigure them into works that question balance, efficiency, bureaucracy, and the general feeling of safety we ascribe to the built environment. Johnson's fourth solo exhibition at Blum & Poe features eleven sculptures, each of which present fragile, precarious figures out of the most durable materials available in the building industry. This combination of materiality and precarity presented by Johnson recalls the work of modern and contemporary sculptors, including the spindly figures of Alberto Giacometti, the metal balancing acts of Alexander Calder, and the multimedia assemblages of Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Like those artists, Johnson employs few tricks to summon his materials into their seemingly impossible positions. “No illusions are cast,” the press release states, “the objects are carved actors on a set, executing their performances, restricted only by their painted, wooden, physical existence.” A few of the sculptures on display even manage to bring a sense of personality and narrative to the inert objects that make up their compositions. One sculpture, titled 1 block with 2 bricks and 2 bricks cantilevered on 1 bar, can be read as the embodiment of a millennia-long competition between clay and concrete in the building industry—or, speaking more generally, between two distinctly opposing methods of potentially arriving at the same final result. This and other pieces are, according to the gallery, “organized information, like subatomic particles, atoms and elements, molecules and compounds, glued by gravity, and magnetic polarity, surfing in a sea of electrical conductivity.” The exhibition will be on display until January 11, 2020.
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Roaming robot dogs could streamline jobsite documentation

Reality capture has revolutionized construction by increasing job site efficiency and safety and allowing for quick responses to design and building challenges. However, save for the use of drones, often operated by humans, on-the-ground monitoring has required the relatively traditional (and labor-intensive) task of walking around and taking photos and collecting data to feed into software. HoloBuilder, whose software helps builders document and analyze their underway projects, has partnered with the robotics firm Boston Dynamics to create a semi-autonomous solution to document under-construction projects. Using Boston Dynamics’ Spot, a dog-like robot that regularly goes semi-viral for its aerial acrobatics (and its more sinister uses, such as being put to work by the Massachusetts State Police), contractors can capture 360-degree overviews of their work and track changes throughout the build process. Controlled by the SpotWalk app, the robot is first semi-manually trained to walk its reality capture route via a user’s phone. Then, Spot learns to repeat the route on its own, avoiding obstacles and documenting the site consistently and regularly, creating documentation of the project over time. Contractor Hensel Phelps has been testing out Spot on the $1.2 billion San Francisco International Airport Terminal 1 project. A Spot unit walks through the site capturing imagery, which is then fed into HoloBuilder’s machine learning-powered SiteAI, which provides automated construction tracking and other data. Documenting construction sites currently is a tedious task that takes away time from project staff that could otherwise focus on other aspects of construction, safety, and design. It can only be done with relatively limited regularity because of the demands. With Spot, project managers predict that they could capture updates of their sites as frequently as twice a day with all the 360 imagery being automatically organized and analyzed. Because of Spot's greater consistency against humans, the photos are also more useful as tools and the collected data is more actionable due to its regularity.

CONSTRUCT - AEC Education & Expo

CONSTRUCT is an AEC educational program and exhibition that has the goal of bringing together the different disciplines within the construction industry to help improve the future of the built environment. Breaking down the barriers between the different players within the construction process allows for a more collaborative work environment. CONSTRUCT is the place to share the latest in standards and best practices, industry trends, and emerging technologies. Join Construction Architects, Designers, Specifiers, Engineers, Project Managers, Contractors, Construction Managers, Estimators, Owners, Product Representatives, and Manufacturers for cutting-edge, solutions-driven learning opportunities.
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Buildstream brings the networked construction equiptment to the job site

Buildstream is a construction startup leveraging data and internet-of-things (IoT) technology to improve the utilization and efficiency of heavy equipment. Started by a team of developers, engineers, and experts from the construction industry, Buildstream has developed hardware and software to empower contractors with precise, real-time information about equipment location and operation. Buildstream uses a custom algorithm to detect equipment operation data gathered from existing OEM systems or their own off-the-shelf IoT hardware. Whether a user owns or rents their equipment, they can gauge performance, track costs, maintenance, and availability, and make better-informed decisions to improve efficiency. This information links to a central dashboard that can be monitored anywhere across the supply chain, on-site or in the office. This proprietary software can also integrate with existing project management software and other tools, connecting everyone involved with a project. In addition to saving time and money, this equipment could also potentially help reduce the environmental impact of the construction industry; better planning and increased efficiency mean diesel-powered machines will burn less fuel than they might otherwise. Making heavy equipment a little smarter is the first step toward embracing the broader changes that may come as the construction industry embraces automation. "Our vision is to become the industry's standard equipment management platform, whether that's autonomous or man-operated equipment," said David Polanski, chief operating officer of Buildstream. "We believe that in order for automation to have real positive impact on the way we run construction projects, we need to have better control of the data that already exists today and have the right systems in place that allow us to learn from it. This is exactly what BuildStream is built for." In addition to improving efficiency, most contractors believe IoT technology will increase job site safety, protect investments, and reduce risk. In fact, according to a recent report by Dodge Data & Analytics, the top motivator for adopting new technology isn't increased efficiency, but lower insurance premiums. The report also notes that there may be challenges to the emerging industry, as few contractors budget for technology, choosing to instead absorb the costs or pass them along to the client. However, as data increases with adoption, so too will the benefits. "When [contractors] see something that will improve their projects and their profitability, they embrace it," said Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights Research at Dodge Data & Analytics. "Their enthusiasm for IoT technologies suggests that we may see the project job site become much smarter in the next few years."
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New report shows that the modular construction business is booming

According to the recently released Commercial Construction Index (CCI), an economic indicator that tracks trends in the commercial construction industry, demand for modular construction is on the rise, and general contractors expect the trend to continue. Modular construction uses prefabricated and preassembled building components that are built in a factory and shipped to the job site for assembly. They meet the same standards and use the same materials as a traditional building but, advocates say, they offer a range of additional benefits.  As reported by The National Real Estate Investor, over the last five years, the modular construction business has doubled in size to become an $8 billion industry. What amounts for the new interest? Previous studies have shown that increased productivity and lower costs are driving contractors to embrace modular construction. Now, with materials costs continuing to rise around the world, these potential savings have become even more critical. But they're not the only issue. The CCI study found that more than 70 percent of surveyed contractors reported eight clear benefits of modular construction: increases in efficiency, productivity, safety, and quality; reductions in risk, cost, material waste, and construction times—an particularly important benefit for revenue-earning buildings whose owners want to start collecting rent as soon as possible. A few of those benefits go hand-in-hand with one another, but the report is promising for the industry. The nonprofit Modular Building Institute also predicts an increase in modular construction over the next few years. However, in their view, it's not just the above-mentioned benefits driving change, it's also the accelerating loss of skilled labor that will push the industry further toward industrialization and automation. The reports are a potential boon for the industry, which hit some bumps during what might be called its “start-up” phase a few years ago. Notably, 461 Dean Street in Brooklyn’s Pacific Park development hit setbacks that included manufacturing disruptions, disputes, and delays that ultimately lead to a four-year construction period and giving it, as AN wrote at the time, “the dubious honor of having one of the most languid construction timelines for a tower of its size in city history.” The plan for more modular buildings in Pacific Park was abandoned, but, after the project got back on track, the building now stands as a model of the potential and the pitfalls of modular construction.   The stories that have since followed have suffered from fewer hiccups, like the 21-story CitizenM New York. The tallest modular hotel in the United States, the CitizenM is composed of 210 modular units, each housing two hotel rooms. Housing, hotels, and hospitals, which depend on the repetition of identical rooms and spaces, are the areas that stand to benefit the most and, in turn, drive the growth of modular construction.   What could stall the rise of modular construction? Upfront costs can be large and securing loans can be difficult. And although the manufacturing technology is becoming more sound, the much-touted savings aren’t as significant as predicted yet. That could change as demand rises, as more factories are built to produce modular components, and as other factors, like the use of autonomous vehicles to reduce shipping costs and advancements in BIM make it easier to build stronger partnerships between architect, fabricator, and contractor. The last hurdle? A lack of awareness. More than 70 percent of general contractors say their reason for not using modular construction is that clients aren't asking for them and architects aren’t designing them.
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Heat waves are slowing construction around the world, and it will only get worse

The effects of climate change are felt all over the world and are causing a host of negative consequences. Extreme heat events are happening more frequently and for longer periods of time. For the construction industry, a trade sensitive to the weather because of the working conditions, it becomes ever more likely that complications will arise. This June was the world’s hottest on record, according to the National Weather Service. The Independent reported that experts say this July is likely to have been the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. Extreme heat has covered much of the U.S. with temperatures approaching and exceeding triple digits. In Europe, a massive heatwave marked the summer and now Greenland, within recent days, has faced a tremendous ice melt. During these times, construction companies must pay closer attention to the health of their employees on the job. Providing more break time, shade, and water will help alleviate workers during the daytime and hours may shift to night-time when the temperature is coolest. There’s a lot of money bound to a construction site. Leased equipment, contractual penalties, and cost of labor are expected on the job, but unexpected weather results in unpleasant, expensive surprises, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for construction planners to rely on seasonal forecasts. “The construction industry loses billions of dollars on delays and failures caused by bad weather. Buildings are damaged during storms; sites turn into seas of mud; freezing temperatures make it impossible to pour concrete,” said Climate.gov in 2017 when reporting on climate and construction. The dangerous heat may become a factor in increasing incidents of heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke. A study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reports that 36.8 percent of heat-related deaths nationwide occurred within the construction industry, “Heat is something we deal with every year,” said DPR Construction Southeast Regional Safety Manager Steve Duff. At DPR, more breaks, more water, and educational talks on heat illnesses are provided to employees. Duff credits lifestyle factors over climate change as the reason for escalating heat-related incidents. He said the popularity of energy drinks is a culprit, causing dehydration. Also, new employees to the industry after the Great Recession who came from other industries had likely "not been outdoors frequently." Billy Grayson (executive director of the Center for Sustainability and Economics Performance at the Urban Land Institute, an organization providing leadership in responsible land use) faults construction materials. “Extreme heat can delay construction projects due to the need for specific building materials to cool or cure,” Grayson said. "If these products can't solidify at the right timing for the project, it can cause significant delays." Ryan Ware, cofounder of Vantis, a company that specializes in designing custom commercial facility interiors that are constructed off-site, says this could lead to more adoption of prefabricated construction. “It's taking the risk out of the heat wave, because you're putting the [staff] into a factory or a controlled environment,” Vantis said. Regardless, as temperatures continue to rise, the construction industry will have to adapt accordingly.
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Products of border wall research may expand to the rest of the construction industry

Over ten days this past spring, a privately funded group named We Build the Wall hurriedly constructed a segment of the proposed United States–Mexico border wall in Sunland Park, New Mexico. The rapid erection of this so-called “gift to America” shocked nearby communities and the project served as a startling proof of concept for emerging wall construction technologies. Developed under the auspices of the Trump administration’s border wall request for proposals, these are the products of a technological arms race to improve the speed and efficiency in which national security infrastructure can be delivered. The segment is the first product of what will surely become a growing list of building technologies developed as part of the xenophobic border wall project. These technologies will shape project delivery expectations, methods, and outcomes in the borderland and beyond as the building industry and the built environment inherit securocratic technologies developed in the shadow of the wall. As construction companies attempt to curry favor with the administration, there has been an uptick in patent filings for construction systems and project delivery methods explicitly tied to border wall construction. In 2018 alone, there were three such patents filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), including designs for a border wall built of shipping containers, a “power-generating border wall,” and a “multifunctional solar-powered barrier wall,” which included financing instruments its inventors argued would allow the wall to pay for itself. Fisher Sand & Gravel, the North Dakota company responsible for the construction of the wall in Sunland Park, holds a patent (through its subsidiary, General Steel & Supply Company) for a proprietary “concrete forming system” designed to expedite border wall construction. Claiming the technique would allow completion of the entire border wall within six years and under budget, Fisher was one of six companies picked to build a wall prototype in Otay Mesa, California, after the Trump administration’s RFP for border barriers in 2017. Fisher’s concrete-forming patent describes a novel process which capitalizes on modified construction equipment to rapidly form and cure extensive, continuous, cast-in-place concrete panels. At the core of the proposal are modified excavators adapted to traverse mountainous terrain equipped with “quick connect” arm couplers capable of positioning massive steel formwork. The excavators and steel forms, per the patent’s argument, eliminate the need for numerous, labor-intensive ties and bracing that more typical concrete construction would require, while also eliminating the transportation costs and potential breakage associated with positioning individual precast panels. The steel formwork can be rotated on three axes, controlling for pitch, yaw, and roll, allowing endless adjustments in “attitude, position, and/or orientation," in rugged borderland terrain. The flexible system allows operators to control the wall section of the barrier, facilitating wall designs of equal thickness, tapered “triangular-shaped” walls, or “any other orientation or configuration." Patent drawings show a veritable army of excavators choreographed to position alternating sections of steel formwork with military discipline. As the wall is poured, the edges of completed freestanding sections are incorporated as formwork for infill panels, allowing a nonstop rhythm of pouring and curing along the line. In a self-assured video extolling the virtues of its method, Fisher boasts that its wall, covering the entirety of the land border with Mexico, will protect the U.S. for 150 years to come. A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) test team evaluated the construction of Fisher’s prototype in Otay Mesa and noted that—along with all concrete prototypes—the proposal would face “extensive” challenges in construction. Its concrete design having failed to procure the elusive border-wall contract, Fisher incorporated much of the same proprietary technology and delivery protocols into a modified steel design. Videos online show Fisher’s technique for construction of a steel bollard fence using a similar process to the one outlined in the concrete-forming patent. Workers first prepare a trench and position a fleet of modified excavators around the site. Instead of positioning metal formwork, the vehicles are outfitted with a custom trussed hanger spanning 56 feet on which workers hang prefabricated sections of bollard fence. The vehicles then position the long sections, drop them into the trench, level and align as necessary, and fix the bollards in a poured concrete foundation. Unlike the concrete-forming method, which requires excavators to be positioned on both sides of the fence, the steel fence can be erected with machines working from one side only. During demonstrations, the company pointed out that the construction process would not breach the international boundary. According to Fisher, the bollard-fence hanging system is “patent-pending,” though no record of a new application from Fisher Industries or subsidiaries is yet available on the USPTO database. A remarkably similar design for a “bollard fence” was filed by Neusch Innovations in December 2018 and may be related. Company executive Tommy Fisher relentlessly promoted Fisher’s steel design as a faster, cheaper, and better alternative to other techniques, a bold triad of claims given the realities of the construction industry. The Republican donor has aggressively targeted this message to conservative outlets like Fox News, largely gaining the support of border wall advocates, and even Trump himself, whose fervor for the wall Fisher consistently praises. Trump has allegedly tried repeatedly to influence the public bid process by pushing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to award Fisher the contract, as yet to no avail. Fisher, meanwhile, has demonstrated his construction technique to politicians in Arizona, claiming the tests prove his company capable of building 218 miles of the border wall in one year. Despite the USACE’s negative appraisal of the design and Department of Homeland Security officials’ negative views of the company, Fisher eventually found a partner to build the steel assembly in the privately funded, pro-wall, conservative nonprofit We Build the Wall. Fisher construction crews descended on Sunland Park over Memorial Day weekend, armed with specially equipped excavators and prefabricated bollard steel fencing. Construction was reported complete ten days later, with about a half-mile of barrier constructed in the formerly pristine environment. The shocking speed of construction, enabled by Fisher’s proprietary methods and equipment, obscured the project’s significant damage. The new border wall, although built on private property, abuts federal property, and its locked gate blocked entry to the American Diversion Dam, a critical piece of national infrastructure. The International Boundary and Water Commission, the agency that manages waterways on the U.S.–Mexico border, has ordered the gate to remain open to allow for operations and maintenance at the dam. Additionally, to create a relatively horizontal cross-section for the border fence appropriate for the company’s method, Fisher filled an existing deep arroyo with 200,000 cubic yards of soil. The effects of this extensive terraforming within a fragile desert ecology are unknown, as the company did not perform an environmental impact assessment. Scientists speculate that much of the disturbed soil was heavily polluted from nearby industry and will precipitate into the Rio Grande, sending more pollutants downstream, mostly into Mexican farms. While we as architects might resist the border wall itself, we must also respond to the myriad advances in the construction industry which have matured in its wake. Efficiencies must not be gained at the expense of human dignity or lives.

GreenerBuilder 2019

Hosted by the Pacific Region communities of the U.S. Green Building Council, GreenerBuilder is a one-day conference and expo for green building professionals. The annual event unites all of the key players in greening the Pacific Region’s built environment—including architects, engineers and contractors—to discuss industry trends, new research and emerging technologies. GreenerBuilder is where you can get the strategies and tools to help create a more sustainable future in the region.
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GXN thinks the future of construction could be flying 3D printers

Most 3D printers, no matter their size, operate in a pretty similar way: they move along a grid to deposit material, sliding on axes in a fixed manner within a frame. Even those with more flexible arms remain fixed at a point. GXN, the research-focused spinoff of the Danish architecture firm 3XN, is looking to change that, using high-tech robotics to “break the grid” and offer new possibilities in additive manufacturing. Along with the Dansk AM Hub, a foundation that supports experimentation in additive manufacturing, and MAP architects, GXN has been hacking printers—both mechanically and virtually—to create prototypes that can move through space on land, in the air, and underwater. Their speculative Break the Grid proposal imagines a near future where our buildings and infrastructure can be created and maintained with the help of autonomous, robotic 3D printers that move beyond the normal confines of additive manufacturing devices. The team started by asking themselves, “Where could we take this if we let our imagination run a little bit free, and what sort of impact would we imagine additive manufacturing having in a positive way in the built environment?” said Kåre Stokholm Poulsgaard, Head of Innovation at GXN. “The goal was to learn something about this," said Stokholm Poulsgaard, “so we had this idea that we wanted to be able to set the printers free, so we needed to understand robotics and mobility, and what this means." GXN took a hacker’s approach to the project. They used existing products, like simple stepper motors and 3D printers already available on the market, to create both mechanical and virtual prototypes. “We wanted to create something new, something that we haven't seen before, but we also wanted to make sure that whatever we created was tied into existing technologies and capabilities,” explained Stokholm Poulsgaard. Along with roboticist Teodor Petrov, the GXN team began creating a series of robots, using both cheaply available parts and bespoke components. They also created a variety of digital models and plans, virtual hacks, that in their final form look like something out of a sci-fi video game. The team behind Break the Grid has selected three main areas where they see autonomous 3D printers as prime opportunities. The first of these is in addressing global problems in maintaining infrastructure across the globe. It’s estimated that in the U.S. alone, unaddressed issues with highways, bridges, and the like could result in $4 trillion in losses to the economy by 2025. GXN imagines walking robots that could repair microcracks in concrete infrastructure before they eventually become far larger by allowing in water and oxygen, causing corrosion. Inspired by studies done at Rutgers and Bingham Universities, the team imagined a 3D printing robot that deposits the fungus Trichoderma reesei, which encourages calcium carbonate to form, filling in this microcracks and staving off further damage, especially in smaller and more isolated parts of the road. GXN also proposes using 3D printing robots on the seafloor to help minimize the damage from coastal storms by 3D printing artificial reefs made from a bio-based cement derived from oysters as a binder. For addressing climate issues on land—or above it, as it were—they imagined drone-printers that can help repair, enhance, and build sections of high-rise facades in order to support their thermal bridges, which are, the team claims, responsible for as much as 30 percent of a building’s heat loss. GXN hopes that robotic additive manufacturing devices like these could someday work alongside humans to change how construction happens. “Construction is a very large sector in society,” said Stokholm Poulsgaard, “and it's one of the last large sectors to see comprehensive automation. While all these other sectors are seeing very large productivity growth, the built environment is absolutely flat-lining.” Still, it’s important not to forget that there are many workers in construction. Stokholm Poulsgaard says it’s not about replacing human workers, but about understanding how technology can work alongside people. “Let's say we have these robots on a building site,” he said, “how do they interface with traditional construction techniques and the people working there in ways that add value and are meaningful? Because robots can do some things better than humans, that goes for artificial intelligence as well, but there's a lot of stuff it cannot do. How do we let the robots do what they do best to free up people to do what they do best?” The other hope, besides increases in productivity, safety, and efficiency is added design freedom for architects. “Additive manufacturing promises variation at less or no extra cost,” said Stokholm Poulsgaard, “because they allow you to link up with parametric programs and then mass produce variations of the same components, for example, at a very low cost compared to if you had to do them by hand or traditional means.” At the moment mobile 3D printing remains purely speculative, but GXN hopes that drones and ROVs will become normal occurrences on construction sites in the near future.