It’s Friday, so we thought we’d have a little fun and take a look at some of the unique and out of this world skyscraper ideas we’ve come across lately. We’ll also discuss the probability of each being able to make the transition from vision to reality.
Project AME (Additive Manufactured Excavator), the world’s first 3D printed excavator, made its debut last week at the Tech Experience at CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2017 in Las Vegas. The project was a collaboration between the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and researchers and students from Georgia Tech, the University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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The adoption and use of Building Information Modeling (BIM), the digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility that creates a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility to form a reliable basis for decisions from conception to the end of its lifecycle, has skyrocketed over the past few years. Some of the benefits of BIM include faster delivery time, improved collaboration among stakeholders, reduced costs for construction and facility operations and a reduction in change orders.
By now, most people are familiar with the concepts of virtual reality, and maybe to a lesser extent, augmented reality. When you think of examples virtual reality you probably think of either movies, like The Lawnmower Man or The Matrix trilogy, or video games especially with the release of so many VR headsets hitting the market in the past year such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Gear VR and PlayStation VR, just to name a few.
For most of us, when we think of road and bridge construction it’s usually when we are being delayed by a work zone or when we resign ourselves to driving through the smaller potholes to avoid being swallowed up by the bigger potholes. When we do think about road and bridge construction, the terms “new innovations” and “cutting edge technology” probably never cross our minds.
According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats (CTBUH), the authority on skyscrapers, we are entering the era of "megatall" buildings. Megatall buildings are those taller than 1,968 feet. Currently, there are only three such structures: Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 2,717 ft., is the world’s tallest building and was completed in 2010, the Shanghai Tower completed in 2015 in Shanghai, China stands at 2,073 ft. and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower at 1,972 ft. in Mecca, Saudi Arabia was finished in 2012.
Imagine walking onto a construction site in the near future to find a team of robots doing site grading and site layout or laying a brick wall or even assembling scaffolding trusses. This may seem far-fetched, something you'd expect in a sci-fi flick or a story by Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury, but advances in robotic technology are quickly making it a reality. In fact, depending on the type of work you do, you might already be using robots at the construction site. Robotic heat welders and remote-controlled demolition robots have been commercially available for a number of years.
Most people probably don’t give much thought to advancements in building materials. The oldest known bricks date back to around 7500 B.C. Concrete-like substances were in use as far back as 6500 BC and the ancient Romans mixed lime and a volcanic ash, pozzolan, to make concrete which was used to build structures like the Coliseum and the Pantheon.
Imagine walking onto a construction site to find a fleet of bulldozers, graders, and excavators doing site prep without any operators behind the controls. Upon closer inspection, you notice some of the equipment is cab-less with no manual controls. The operators might be standing at a safe distance operating the machine remotely. Maybe the equipment is operating itself while someone monitors the work from the jobsite trailer or even back at the office 50 miles away. Autonomous and semi-autonomous construction equipment are the future and we’ll see it lead to safer jobsites with the work being done more efficiently and accurately than today.
Most of the focus on applying 3D printing technology to the construction industry revolves around building structures. The world’s first 3D printed office building opened this week in Dubai which has set a goal of 3D printing 25% of all buildings in the city by 2030. Taking just 17 days to print and two days to assemble, the 2,700-square-foot building was printed by WinSun Decoration Design Engineering. Back in 2014, WinSun printed 10 single-room buildings in a span of 24 hours. They followed that up last year by 3D printing a five-story apartment building and a nearly 12,000-square-foot villa.