Autodesk to Unveil New Construction Robots



Autodesk is launching a new robotic shipping container that can allegedly take manufacturing technology directly to the construction site.

The unit is being demonstrated in Las Vegas at the Autodesk University to demonstrate how the company has been collaborating with the construction industry to review the benefits of adopting manufacturing practices and principles.

Autodesk has created a manufacturing ‘toolbox’ that puts two robots in a shipping container for easy transportation to a construction site. The Netherlands-based Valk Welding group provided the  Panasonic TS-950 robots for directed energy deposition, a type of additive manufacturing to produce quality metal components.

According to Autodesk, manufacturing and construction professionals are looking for more efficient ways to design and build, and there may be beneficial gains when construction is approached from a manufacturing perspective.

With the population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, erosion of natural resources, the effects of climate change, and a growing shortage of skilled labour, it will be next to impossible to fulfill the need to build an average of 13,000 properties per year until 2050.

The construction industry will benefit from the ability to create large building parts out of steel and other materials on-site. Autodesk posed the question to its customers: what could be done with such a technology if it could be used anywhere in the world, including a construction site?

Dura Vermeer, the Dutch construction business, responded that it could use on-demand manufacturing technologies to address common challenges, such as lack of customised components for connections that are tolerance-sensitive.

One of Dura Vermeer’s challenges is using mass-produced parts for connecting a curtain wall made from glass to a building’s steel frame. To avoid breaking, the glass panes need to be positioned precisely. The Autodesk construction robots could enable the company to create a special connector that produces components that fit perfectly, have optimised weight, have high architectural quality, and are easy to install.

The second idea that Dura Vermeer presented was to combine 10 different components into a single one that could make their supply chain simple, reduce installation labour, and result in quality components. It also sees the Autodesk construction robots supporting the redesign of structural connections into holistic nodes. Architects and engineers often design complex structures that the company needs to cut into parts to be created by their supply chain, and then put them back together on site. With another manufacturing approach available, Dura Vermeer believes they could solve this complexity and create more components on site, such as modular dome structure connections, to become pieces of artwork inside a building.

Donald Dielwart, a board member of Dura Vermeer, said that using innovative new technology and accepting unique solutions for construction issues will allow the company to bring more value to its customers.

Autodesk will showcase early Dura Vermeer prototypes, in addition to the additive shipping container. Then it will take the technology on the road in Europe to see how other construction companies might use it.

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