New highly specialized professionals and 3D printers in the AEC sector complete the ranking of the top 10 construction technology innovations that will be the most influential in 2019

Digital technology is an essential component of today’s construction landscape. In this fourth and final insight dealing with construction technology innovations we’ll be taking a look at new professionals that are highly specialized in 3D printing construction.

In our previous posts we have reviewed wearable technologies, augmented reality and green asphalt (article part 1).

In our second article we have particularly focused on drones for site surveying, self-healing concrete, robotics and self-driving vehicles (part 2).

Finally, our third article has addressed great opportunities offered by BIM platforms and the use of transparent aluminum in the construction sector (part 3) .

Below is our pick of the 10 most influential technological trends that will shape the AEC industry in 2019:

  1. wearable technologies
  2. augmented reality in the design phase
  3. green and eco-sustainable asphalt
  4. drones and laser scanners for surveying
  5. innovative self-healing concretes
  6. robotics and building automation
  7. BIM platforms
  8. transparent aluminum
  9. new specialized professionals
  10. 3D printers for the construction industry

New specialized professionals

The transformation of the construction sector, determined by technological innovation, has increased the need to hire professionals with new skills that are specialized in the following areas of expertise:

  • CLOUD: cloud operations engineer, cloud manager, cloud strategist
  • BIM: BIM modeler, BIM engineer, BIM specialist
  • DRONES: drone pilots
  • VR e AR: virtual reality operator, VR innovation researcher, VR/AR developer
  • 3D PRINT: 3D printer assistant
  • ROBOTICS: mechanical / automation engineer, test engineer, robotics developer

Some of these new experts have actually obtained traditional degrees (computer / electronic / mechanical engineering, computer science), while others have undertaken training and professional courses of shorter duration.

Furthermore, there are other professional roles that are clearly regulated at international level and their employment is linked to direct work experience.

Let’s analyze some of the most innovative and less common roles.

Drones pilot and coordinator

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly called drones, are now widely used to inspect sites, for example for surveying operations, and in many other sectors. Being a very practical and cost-effective tool, it is expected that the drone market will grow exponentially in the next 10 years and, therefore, there will be a strong request for specialized personnel.

Legal regulation should necessarily be applied together with appropriate training of professional figures capable of flying and coordinating drones, to guarantee safety through continuous monitoring and full control.

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Drone pilot employed for monitoring a construction site

Since the rapid spread of drones can be a source of danger, but also of privacy concerns, many countries have already legislated on the matter, making the flight license mandatory for professional drone pilots.

On the contrary, if the drone is used for recreational purposes, no courses or certificates are required.

Robots pilot and developer

The robotic presence in the construction industry is growing and diversifying, urging for more adequate human control.

automa-building-masonry-walls

Automa used to make masonry walls

Robots’ potential is already evident when it comes to automating dangerous or highly repetitive activities, from brick and reinforced concrete walls construction, to site investigations and hazardous substances contact.

On the market, it is already possible to find fully automated vehicles and systems that can perform heavy work, such as levelling, cutting, filling, excavation, etc.

For certain tasks robots can be superior to humans in terms of the quality of the work that is produced in a single working day. At some point, 24-hour automated construction will, most likely, only require human supervision and machine control.

3D printing for construction

The process of converting a digital file into a physical object has been around since the end of the 1980s, but only in recent years the 3D printing has become a modelling tool in the design and construction sector.

This is the technological evolution of the traditional “models” used to analyze a new construction project in a more intuitive and immediate way.

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Architectural model made with a 3D printer

AEC companies (architecture, engineering and construction) have placed great hopes in the integration of 3D printing with:

  • BIM – building information modelling
  • laser scanning
  • augmented reality
  • production/manufacturing of building components

3D printing works similarly to normal printing. The process starts with creating a file, specifically, a CAD or BIM model. Files are then sent to a dedicated software that is connected to the printer and that extracts file data by subdividing them into hundreds (or thousands) of levels.

Finally, the 3D printer produces the model layer by layer, that are cut to shape and joined together.

3D printing offers several advantages over traditional manufacturing techniques:

  • models are faster and cheaper to make
  • design life-cycles (planning / 3D model / verification) are shorter with faster iterations
  • total freedom in design (without limits in forms and structures associated with the traditional production)
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Building prototype produced with a 3D printer

The most innovative and sometimes experimental uses for 3D printing in the AEC sector include:

  • urban planning
  • design and implementation of details in small scales (even 1: 1)
  • structural verification and engineering analysis
  • production of structural elements
  • production of building prototypes.

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