March 10, 2021

We're back, 3D Printing and Pre-fabrication

After a long, very long time with no posts. I've decided to continue writing Micro-Posts. This small post category in which I comment articles, trends and news about construction, engineering and design.

If you wonder what I've been doing all this time, the answer is simple: I've focused my time and energy in creating a learning platform for BIM and a workstations platform (both of them are in an alpha state of development). You can read more about them in the corresponding posts.

Right now I want to share a couple thoughts on two of the three biggest trends in construction industry, Concrete 3D Printing and Off-Site Construction (Pre-fabrication). The first and biggest trend in the Construction industry is BIM.

Concrete 3D Printing Technology is spreading. Check this 3D Printed coworking space in Thailand. The Technology is gaining Momentum, knowledge and experience are spreading, but the business model behind is something that still wonders me. Do companies developing this technology want to become construction companies, they want to license the technology to construction companies, they want to integrate design and building services or do they want to become something like concrete pump vendors or cement vendors. Eventhough I cannot (yet) make my mind on which business model I support, I'm pretty sure choosing the right business model will be a key factor for the technology to become mainstream.

I read this article about a  a building in Hong-Kong using prefabrication. I believe prefabrication has the potential to lead to a much greener and sustainable infrastructure future, but for this to happen Pre-fabrication needs to be oriented not only in building things off-site and then transporting and lifting them into place but, most importantly, in creating designs and products that reduce carbon footprint, are recyclable and lower costs. If pre-fabrication is only used to build 50 Bathroom units for a housing project and then the design is thrown away and not optimized for material reduction, reparability, recyclability and scaling production volume. Then pre-fabrication just moves the construction site to a factory, but doesn't bring added value.

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