The ETH Zurich Chair in Industrial and Innovative Construction is the home of Konrad Graser, a PhD candidate. The organizational models for the application of digital manufacturing in the AEC sectors, the diffusion of systemic innovation in the AEC domain and the influence of new technologies in the organization of construction projects are some of his research interests. From 2015 to 2018, Konrad was the DFAB HOUSE project manager for NCCR Digital Fabrication, a building-scale demonstration of digital fabrication in construction.
Mr. Graser explains: “If you look at how buildings are created today, all of these procedures have a long history, but they are all designed to be performed by people.” “As a result, they are using all the skills that individuals have, as well as all the skills that people have. You can’t just transfer them to a machine or digital instrument.
So what we are trying to do is take a step back and consider what the machine and the robot are capable of, as well as generate a change in the way we build.
The DFAB House demonstrated how robots can be used in construction both indoors and outdoors. The wooden parts that make up the upper levels of the house were built by robots, as was the steel frame of the curved concrete wall. Graser refers to this as “3D printing with steel.”
Architects and builders are experimenting with the possibilities offered by new technologies related to 3D printing around the world.
Construction robots are being developed for a variety of jobs that are often heavy, repetitive, and boring, making them ideal candidates for automation. There are robots that can hang drywall, lay bricks, and move big things, but they are still a long way from completely replacing people.
For example, SAM, the “semi-automated mason” developed by an American company called Construction Robotics, has been used on various construction sites in the United States.
However, construction websites are not the ideal settings for a fancy kit. They are dirty, messy and full of unpredictable things: humans, vehicles and also the weather. Therefore, in the short term at least, robots could create their greatest contribution away from the development site itself.
The highest floors of the DFAB House were built by two robots that never went outside. Mounted on the roofs of an oversized factory space, they worked together to cut, drill and position the wooden members of the structure, which were delivered by truck.
This way of building, which is currently called “off-site” or “modular” construction, is becoming much more widespread. In its day, it was called “pre-fab construction” and was associated with cheap, low-quality buildings, such as those built in the UK to serve the homeless in WWII.
However, prefabs are making a comeback around the world. In Singapore, the government expects to have a third of recent homes designed by the government’s Housing and Development Board created with pre-fab units, in an attempt to expand construction productivity by 25%.
Rooms are created exactly from concrete in factories, painted, cladding and flooring installed, windows and sinks installed, before being assembled in buildings.
However, fabrication is not simply a way to create boring gray residences a little cheaper. Troubled companies are mistreating her as a thank you for delivering new buildings with the best style and environmental standards at cheap prices.
In Reno, Nevada, the Ukrainian-born Maxim Gerbut company, PassivDom, is changing the idea of manufacturing for the 21st century.
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