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Like with so many industries, innovation is an important aspect of the construction industry. As new technology is developed, we must consider how it can improve the design or building process.

As experienced structural engineers in Devon, we know how important it is to look to the future when developing new projects. Building methods have changed over time, and progress within the industry has not halted. As futuristic as it may sound, drones and 3D printers may start to become a construction site staple.

We take a look at how these innovations are changing the industry and why they could be beneficial to the future of construction!

How Are Drones Used in Construction?

Drones are becoming more popular and available to the everyday consumer, but how can they benefit structural engineers and construction sites?

Drones can give a full bird’s-eye view of live sites which is useful when considering a project’s progress. Various updates from the drones and the constant monitoring of deliveries can help speed up site logistics and allow any changes that need to be made to become more streamlined. Surveying and mapping tasks done by drones are more convenient and prevent manpower from being wasted on such jobs.

Modern construction sites can use drones to measure the levels of building materials which creates savings on time and effort, which will make the site far more efficient.

Construction companies in Japan have also started using drones to provide automated bulldozers and machinery with visual information to help them navigate the site. The drones essentially act as the eyes for these automated machines!

An aerial view of a construction site from a drone

How is 3D Printing Used in Construction?

For years, 3D printers have been used to create models or miniature prototypes of upcoming building projects. However, in more recent years, it has become possible to use 3D printing in the actual construction process.

With the help of a robotic arm, concrete can be ‘printed’ from a nozzle in a variety of shapes including curved, hollowed and complex configurations. This method can be used to print various components of a building.

Dubai is home to many impressive structures, one of them being the world’s first 3D printed office which only cost $140,000 to build.

The Benefits

By combining the use of drones and 3D printing, experts in the field look forward to a future of robotic building sites.

Sceptics may wonder whether the introduction of this new technology is just a gimmick. However, many experts outline the possible benefits to these changes.

The UN has posited that 3D printing could be a solution for the emerging housing crisis.

Some of the proposed benefits of 3D printing include:

• It is cheaper than traditional methods.
• It is faster.
• It is more environmentally friendly.
• There can be greater flexibility in design.

Homes built with the help of 3D printing and drones can achieve the expected levels of quality and durability while also needing less time spent on their construction.

As mentioned before, more automation in the industry can make many previously time-consuming processes more streamlined and efficient. Using drones and 3D printing for various tasks can also mean jobs are executed more accurately.

3d-printed concrete

Is Innovation Necessary?

In some cases, this kind of new technology will not be beneficial or necessary; current building methods may not warrant any changes in some circumstances.

In places where local labour and materials are cheap, it is unlikely these changes will be implemented in the near future. For many projects, robotic construction is not yet feasible or necessary.

Ultimately, the use of drones and 3D printing in construction can help to increase efficiency and quality. As the technology becomes the industry standard and is embraced more widely, new opportunities will become available.

As we become more conscious of the environmental impact of human activity, the industry must evolve to help mitigate the effects; drones and 3D printing can help support these changes.

Here at Martin Perry Associates, we are dedicated to supporting your next building project. For more information about how we could help, why not get in touch today?

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