Disruptive Materials in Construction


To identify 3-4 disruptive technologies/products in the construction market, with a focus on the materials used.

Early Findings

3D Printing

  • 3D printing has been more and more attractive in the construction industry due to its efficiency and fast yields.
  • 3D printing has already been used for the printing of parts and models but also for modular panels and even entire buildings.
  • It has been reported that 3D printing a small house takes only several days.
  • For architects, 3D printing makes the creation and designing process much faster and efficient.
  • It is also extremely cost-effective, with experts reporting that using a 3D printing saves up to 75% of the cost associated with designing a new building.

Self-Healing Concrete

  • There has been a big emergence of cost-effective new forms of concrete in recent years, with one of the most prominent examples being self-healing concrete.
  • The self-healing concrete mix "uses bacteria as a healing agent to close concrete cracks". The bacteria itself is enclosed in a sodium silicate, which ruptures when a crack in the concrete appears, releasing a "gel-like healing agent that hardens to fill the void."
  • The durability of the concrete is greatly improved by using that method, which gives a big advantage for any new construction project as the maintenance cost decreases as well.
  • Moreover, the mix is very cost-effective compared to regular concrete and other energy-efficient concrete options on the market.
  • Since architects have been worried about the quality of the materials that construction companies used to complete their projects, introducing such a cost-effective and durable product will boost the quality of the construction and help better implement the architects' vision.
  • However, they are also concerned that while new, durable and cost-effective options are being produced there are still few options that use sustainable materials to produce the cement, which accounts for over 8% of the global CO2 emissions.

Energy Efficient Bricks

  • Since architects are extremely concerned about the carbon footprint of their projects. In fact, over 40% of the greenhouse emissions in the UK alone are caused by the construction industry.
  • As such, they have been trying to find ways to create construction materials that are sustainable and eco-friendly.
  • The construction company Thames Water has recently "found an inventive way to use sewage to create the material needed for heavy-duty bricks."
  • The company mixes the ash of the burnt dried waste with "carbon dioxide, water, sand and a small quantity of cement to form an aggregate for individual breeze blocks — each weighing 17kg."
  • Thames Water is expected to be able to produce 18,000 tonnes of aggregate every year, which can be used to make about 2.3 million construction bricks.

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