Smart construction is here—and it is being spurred on by new, emerging technology and innovative building methods including 3D printing and scanning and prefabrication. Also, it is spanning all segments of construction, from residential homes to infrastructure projects.

A recent report from Research And Markets shows 3D concrete printing is one area that will experience growth. Using this, structures are formed layer-by-layer from high-performance concrete and additives. The concrete is emitted from the 3D printer, which creates the structure based on the design made in the software.

Taking it a step further, automated and semi-automated machines can be integrated into the production line of the structure, in order to implement more effective 3D concrete structure. This particular type of 3D printing is seeing the most growth in emerging economies such as China.

In the United States, companies are introducing 3D printing technology that can be used by builders and contractors. One such example comes from Sunconomy, out of Austin, Texas, which introduced We Print Homes, a 3D printed home technology system that is now available and permitted.

The system leverages a mobile platform with a printer head and prints house with hydrophobic, self-binding geopolymer cement. This eliminates the need for in-demand subcontracting crews, and homes can be built in a matter of days.

This points to a larger trend that exists in the construction industry today—the move to more prefab and off-site manufacturing. Many companies are continuing to explore how this can help improve production and address some of the difficulties the industry faces with the skilled labor shortage.

Recently, Prefab Logic developed a factory for automated volumetric modular construction based in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. Operating under the name Autovol, the factory will help solve the affordable housing crisis by producing multi-unit modular projects.

Construction projects continue to evolve with the advent of new technologies and building methods. Prefab projects and 3D printing are just a few ways to address productivity and the labor shortage in construction.

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