FREEFORM CONSTRUCTION APPLICATION RESEARCH

R. A. Buswell1, R. C. Soar1, A. G.F. Gibb2 and A. Thorpe2

1 Wolfson School, Loughborough University, UK
E-mail: r. a.buswell@lboro. ac. uk
2 Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University, UK

Abstract

The level of automation technology and processes control, within the construction sector, faces unique challenges if it is to catch up with automotive and aerospace applications. The construction industry has problems relating to health and safety, environmental legislation and traditional methods of procurement. These are compounded by diminishing skills in the labour force. One way to address these issues is by increased automation and integration of design, modelling and process control. Digital Fabrication has demonstrated the feasibility of the integration of design and component production on a large scale. Freeform Construction builds on Digital Fabrication by integrating the control of final material deposition. This paper reports on recent meetings held with industrialists to gauge their perceptions of the technology and encourage discourse to identify both applications and opportunities for the wider research community. Examples of digital fabrication in construction are discussed. Freeform Construction is defined and potential applications are presented. An example of physical model generation from construction CAD software is described.

Keywords: construction automation, rapid manufacturing, additive manufacturing, freeform

construction

Introduction

Freeform Construction is an initiative that considers the benefits of automated layer based, additive production methods for construction. These methods can be applied, conceptually at least, at any scale from desktop model to full scale building construction. This paper describes results from a recently completed project that investigated the potentials for such applications in conjunction with industry.