Construction Materials

The Construction Industry in the 21st Century

Communications of the ACM

The construction of New York's Empire State Building is often seen as the figurative and literal pinnacle of construction efficiency, rising 1,250 feet and 102 stories from the ground to its rooftop spire in just over 13 months' time, at a human cost of just five lives. Indeed, most of today's construction projects would be lucky to come close to that level of speed, regardless of the building's size. While the construction industry traditionally has been slow to change the way it operates, several new technologies are poised to usher in a new era of faster and more automated construction practices. Three-dimensional (3D) printing is among the key technologies that are expected to change the way structures are built in the future, as construction engineers and contractors seek methods for completing buildings more quickly, more efficiently, and, in many cases, with a greater attention paid to sustainability. Large printers that can print construction materials such as foam or concrete into specific shapes can drastically speed up the creation of walls, decorative or ornamental pieces, and even certain structural elements.

Building with robots and 3D printers: Construction of the DFAB HOUSE up and running


At the Empa and Eawag NEST building in Dübendorf, eight ETH Zurich professors as part of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication are collaborating with business partners to build the three-storey DFAB HOUSE. As part of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication, architects, robotics specialists, material scientists, structural engineers and sustainability experts from ETH Zurich have teamed up with business partners to put several new digital building technologies from the laboratory into practice. The two upper floors, with individual rooms, are being prefabricated at ETH Zurich's Robotic Fabrication Laboratory using spatial timber assemblies; cooperating robots will assemble the timber construction elements. NCCR Investigators Involved with the DFAB HOUSE: Prof. Matthias Kohler, Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication Prof. Fabio Gramazio, Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication Prof. Benjamin Dillenburger, Chair for Digital Building Technologies Prof. Joseph Schwartz, Chair of Structural Design Prof. Robert Flatt, Institute for Building Materials Prof. Walter Kaufmann, Institute of Structural Engineering Prof. Guillaume Habert, Institute of Construction & Infrastructure Management Prof. Jonas Buchli, Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Sys

This girls robotics team from Afghanistan was denied visas for a U.S. competition


A robotics competition team of Afghan girls won't be able to watch their creation compete in person. SEE ALSO: U.S. visa applicants may have to hand over their social media handles The team twice traveled the roughly 500-mile distance to the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, for visa interviews, but officials denied them. The six Afghan girls already had trouble participating in the competition because the materials they needed to build their robot were held up at the airport. First Global sent kits full of building materials to each participating team, but Team Afghanistan only got their stuff three weeks ago because officials feared it might wind up in the hands of extremists.

Carnegie Mellon's AI Program Aims to Better Prepare Students for the Changing Workforce


The goal is to train students to build complex software systems or powerful robots that utilize multiple different AI technologies, whether it be machine learning tech to help those systems learn from data or technology that helps robots see and perceive the world similar to humans. However, there hasn't been a standardized way to develop these complex projects that require multiple AI technologies to function together. Similar to how building a skyscraper requires people with expertise in diverse fields like structural engineering and concrete mixing, building powerful software like Siri or robots requires people with expertise in many different areas of AI. "We have done a good job of covering all the component parts," Moore said of teaching different subsets of AI like machine learning and computer vision.

MIT students hack assistive technology solutions for local clients

MIT News

Students have one day to create prototype assistive devices to suit client needs. Students had access to a wide range of resources, including working space, machinery, and building materials, within Beaver Works and technical assistance from several mentors: John Vivilecchia, Kurt Krueger, and Richard Landry of MIT Lincoln Laboratory; Don Fredette of The Boston Home; Michael Buchman of the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering; and Mary Ziegler of the MIT Office of Digital Learning. The team decided to hack a universal remote that communicates via Wi-Fi with a web interface from which Dan could control television power, volume, and channels. Once the build time was over, several judges, including the ATHack organizers, David Crandelle and David Binder of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network; John Vivilecchia; Don Fredette; and Mary Ziegler evaluated each team's device.

Robotics, Smart Materials, and their Future Impact for Humans


The boundaries between smart materials, artificial intelligence, embodiment, biology, and robotics are blurring. Smart materials largely cover the same set of physical properties (stiffness, elasticity, viscosity) as biological tissue and state-of-the-art soft robotic technologies that have the potential to deliver this capability. We can foresee smart skins, assist and medical devices, biodegradable and environmental robots or intelligent soft robots. Ultimately wearable assist devices will make conventional assist devices redundant.

Robotics, Smart Materials, and their Future Impact for Humans


The nineteenth century marked the acceleration and wide adoption of industrial processes. In the twentieth century, technology moved from the laboratory and research institute to the home. We are now at the cusp of a new technological shift of equal significance: the Robotics Revolution. But what is the Robotics Revolution and what will it actually deliver? A "robot" is often defined as a machine that can carry out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer.

Energy-efficient design

MIT News

Now an MIT team has demonstrated a computer simulation that can help architects optimize their designs for both future operational energy and the initial energy required for making structural materials -- at the same time. To test those trade-offs in practical systems, Mueller and Brown analyzed three types of long-span structures: an enclosed, trussed arch; a "PI" structure (resembling the Greek letter); and an "x-brace." The dark dot at the farthest left in each diagram minimizes structural embodied energy regardless of operational energy, while the dark dot at the farthest right minimizes operational energy regardless of embodied energy. In that case, moving left along the Pareto front will enable the user to significantly reduce embodied energy without much sacrifice in operational energy -- as far as the knee, when operational energy suddenly jumps up.

More companies paying to pinpoint big-data weather forecasts

The Japan Times

"Although we are paying for detailed weather information, the fees are cheaper than the cancellation charges for delivery of construction materials to our work sites," an official at major contractor Kajima Corp. said. "If we know in advance that a work site will not have rain for some hours, we can arrange job plans for the site without canceling work for the entire day," the Kajima official said. "Utilizing big data enables us to avoid various weather-associated risks," the Kajima official said. East Japan Railway Co., which experienced a derailment in the past that was caused by a rain-triggered landslide, hopes to prevent a similar accident by measuring landslide risks based on localized rain forecasts and data on accumulated rainfall.

Devon bricklayer to sell 'very rare' 2,000-year-old lead Roman ingot for £60,000

Daily Mail

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