3D Printing Architecture: Revolutionizing the Construction Industry

The Problem

“The big difference between 3D printing and manufacturing on site is that you’re almost entirely skipping the fabrication part. There are huge potential time, labour and transportation savings to be made, compared to traditional construction methods – however, the cost of 3D-printed materials is still far higher than regular bricks and blocks.” Source

Technology Summary

  • 3D printing is not going to replace brick and concrete buildings. I think it’s more going to be the case that we’ll start printing brick and concrete.
  • The project is not about exploring new architectural possibilities but rather generating discussion about the future of design and construction.
  • Existing 3D printers are only able to produce homogeneous materials that have the same properties throughout. But graded materials would be useful for printing architectural elements – such as beams or façades that mimic bone, which is hard on the outside but spongy on the inside.
  • Robotic arms can be used to print in traditional materials, such as plastic, concrete or composites, or employed to weave or knit three-dimensional fibre structures.
  • In the future, buildings may be constructed by swarms of tiny robots that use a combination of printing and weaving techniques.

The Technology Stakeholders

  • 3D Printing Companies
  • Construction Material Manufacturers
  • Architects
  • Contractors
  • Building Clients

Process of Technology Implementation

  • Encourage Architecture + Design Competitions
  • Research + Development to Create more Innovative Technologies
  • Develop 3D Printing Construction-compatible Materials
  • Replicate pilot in multiple locations worldwide
  • Share new technology and best practices
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Smart Highways Generate Their Own Energy to Make Driving Safer

The Problem

“SMART HIGHWAY are interactive and sustainable roads of tomorrow by designer Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure. The goal is to make smart roads by using light, energy and road signs that interact with the traffic situation to make highway driving safer and more efficient.” Source

Technology Summary

  • Temperature-responsive road paint would show images of snowflakes when the temperature drops below zero, warning drivers to take care on icy roads.
  • Two ideas for roadside lighting: interactive street lamps that come on as vehicles approach then dim as they pass by, thereby saving energy when there is no traffic, and “wind lights” that use energy generated by pinwheels as drafts of air from passing vehicles cause them to spin round.
  • An induction priority lane would incorporate induction coils under the tarmac to recharge electric cars as they drive.
  • Glow-in-the-dark road that uses photo-luminescent paint to mark out traffic lanes. The paint absorbs energy from sunlight during the day the lights the road at night for up to 10 hours.

The Technology Stakeholders

  • SkaleAlert App Developers
  • Cell Phone GPS Developers
  • Residents who live in earthquake-prone areas
  • Real estate owners in earthquake-prone areas

Process of Technology Implementation

  • Identify areas with the greatest need for early warning systems
  • Market the app to gain buy-in from the majority of the public
  • Update software and firmware to allow raw GPS data on smartphones
  • Deploy app, encourage downloading in identified areas
  • Replicate pilot in multiple locations worldwide
  • Share new technology and best practices

 

Crowdsourcing for Early Earthquake Detection

PROBLEM:

“Scientists have found that just a few seconds of warning before an earthquake hits can make a big difference. People have time to get to a safer location, surgeries can be stopped and other protections can be implemented. While early warning systems exist, many areas prone to earthquakes don’t have them because the technology is still very expensive.” Source.

TECHNOLOGY SUMMARY:

  • ShakeAlert is still in the R&D phase but holds the promise of the first earthquake early warning system which uses GPS and seismometers.
  • By downloading the ShakeAlert app, the GPS technology in most smartphones is sensitive enough to detect horizontal and vertical movement as small as one centimeter.
  • If several ShakeAlert apps identified the same horizontal and vertical movement within an area, it would likely be the first jolt of an earthquake and a warning could be sent to everyone’s phones to get to a safe area.
  • The greatest impact this technology would have is in parts of the world that wouldn’t afford to build cost-prohibitive high-technology seismometers which are so common in more developed countries.
  • The vast majority of the world does not have any kind of early warning systems for earthquakes, but what they do have in great numbers are smartphones.

The Technology Stakeholders

  • SkaleAlert App Developers
  • Cell Phone GPS Developers
  • Residents who live in earthquake-prone areas
  • Real estate owners in earthquake-prone areas

Process of Technology Implementation

  • Identify areas with the greatest need for early warning systems
  • Market the app to gain buy-in from the majority of the public
  • Update software and firmware to allow raw GPS data on smartphones
  • Deploy app, encourage downloading in identified areas
  • Replicate pilot in multiple locations worldwide
  • Share new technology and best practices

Biomimicry Inspires Quieter Wind Turbines

  1. Issue: Energy
    • Wind turbines typically take up expanses of land far from densely populated areas in large part because of the amount of noise that they create. If the issue of sound could be mitigated, wind farms could move closer to cities where their energy is predominantly being used, thus creating a shorter more efficient line of energy transit.
  2. Summary of Technology:
    • Researchers have identified several characteristics in owl wings that can be reused bio-mimetically to create create wind turbines, airplanes, and even computer fans.
    • As professor Nigel Peake describes, “Much of the noise caused by a wing – whether it’s attached to a bird, a plane or a fan – originates at the trailing edge where the air passing over the wing surface is turbulent. The structure of an owl’s wing serves to reduce noise by smoothing the passage of air as it passes over the wing – scattering the sound so their prey can’t hear them coming.”
    • The biological form of the wings are covered with down that resembles a forest canopy, a flexible comb of bristles on the leading edge, and most importantly, a porous and elastic fringe of feathers at the trailing edge that dampens sound.
    • To implement this complex form on each of the turbine blades, researchers modeled and 3d printed a porous coating which would replicate the effect of the fringe and scatter the sound of the motion.
  3. Stakeholders: energy consumers, energy utilities, businesses, cities, turbine manufacturers.
  4. Because this technology is still in the development phase, research must be completed as to whether this sound mitigating benefit will have any effect on the energy generation of the turbines. If the levels are the same or improve, that could serve as a significant benefit and would be something to continue exploring. Outside of R&D, deployment might take best be executed through a 3d printing manufacturing company which can easily create augmented coatings for the wind turbine blades. These could be distributed to various wind farms, both existing and proposed. Metropolitan policy makers could determine exactly how close wind farms could safely exist near each city and a land-use proposal could be developed to bring turbines within a smaller radius of the energy-hungry cities.

Bloomberg Business

Tesla Low-Cost Battery May Revolutionize Africa’s Energy Crisis

Problem:

Traditionally, the relationship between a government and its people is one of bartering political support for the provision of services, such as roads, schools, electricity water and security. But with the possibility of being entirely off-grid, daily African life might finally be able to disconnect from the political impact.

Summary:

  1. This wall-mounted battery can hold enough energy to power a home for up to five hours. Tesla has promised to release the technology into the public domain, encouraging others to develop their own models using the open source data.
  2. The Powerall can power a home or business could allow Africans to leapfrog from no electricity at all straight to renewables. Several can be hooked together at a time, increasing the battery’s a capacity to provide continuous power.
  3. This technology would enable the increasing demand for tech hubs throughout the continent, popularizing the concept of mobilizing these stations and allowing them to spring up guerilla-style.
  4. If the Tesla battery provides the anticipated impact across the continent, countries may find themselves with less pressure to provide infrastructure and services to its people, widening the gap between governments and voters.

The article, Tesla’s Low-Cost Renewable Battery Could Revolutionise Africa’s Energy Supply” can be found at The Guardian and the product, the Powerall, can be found on Tesla’s site.

Organizational Stakeholders:

  1. Private Investors in Tesla
  2. African State Governments
  3. African Citizens
  4. Engineers
  5. Entrepreneurs

Steps in Deployment:

  1. Increase production & deployment
  2. Identify markets & educate
  3. Distribute internationally
  4. Provide assistance in use & maintenance
  5. Encourage entrepreneurial growth

Water Conservation Through New Water Containment System

Problem:

Water Conservation is a major issue globally and one of the greatest areas of waste is in agriculture, where the irrigation systems fail to concentrate water usage on individual plants, but rather disperse water inefficiently across great swaths of crops.

Summary:

  1. An independent farmer has developed a new low-tech product that concentrates water usage and conserves 1/30th the amount of water that would otherwise be used to irrigate a crop.
  2. The product is called the Tree T-Pee and is a thermo-formed cone of plastic which sits around the base of each plant, limiting the spread of irrigation to only a 1-foot radius through the use of micro-sprinklers.
  3. The design of the cone is also useful in mitigating frost by pulling the moisture from the micro-sprinklers and holding it rather than allowing it to evaporate.
  4. The product was only created and used in a small region of Florida for citrus farms until recently but will soon be available domestically.

The entrepreneur was recently featured on Shark Tank and the article, Tree-T-Pee Could Provide Drought Relief to Farmers can be found at yourcentralvalley.com. The product’s website can be found here: treetpee.com

Organizational Stakeholders:

  1. Commercial Farms
  2. Independent Farmers
  3. Irrigation and Sprinkler Companies

Steps in Deployment:

  1. Increase production
  2. Identify markets and educate
  3. Distribute product domestically
  4. Expand to provide internationally