Is 3D printing homes the answer to the UK's housing crisis?

source cnn.

16 APRIL 2017 • 6:53PM

Imagine going to a website, choosing a home and printing it out, just as you might do with a boarding card. 

It sounds like something from the pages of science fiction, but elements of it are already available. WikiHouse is a website which allows anyone to upload or download a design for a home, modify it, then get a giant machine to cut it into plywood parts that slot together like Ikea furniture, using only a few bolts and screws.

Advances in 3D printing technology also mean printers can work with ordinary materials used in construction, such as concrete and steel.

The United Arab Emirates government has said it wants 25pc of buildings to be 3D-printed by 2030, turning Dubai into a centre for the sector worth Dh3bn (£657m). 

This could be possible says James Griffith, a structural engineer at Arup. “In Dubai they have a history of pushing pioneering buildings; I see no reason why they couldn’t be mass-producing lots of housing stock.” And anyway, 13 years is a very long time in this industry, says Davide Neri of Italian 3D printing manufacturer WASP.

“Today there are a lot of people researching – when we started in 2012 we were on our own.”

via Cazza

Cazza is designing the world's first 3D printed skyscraper CREDIT: ALEKSANDAR GRUSANOVIC

Dubai has already produced the first 3D-printed office, constructed by a robotic arm in 17 days, and recently some Americans announced plans to build the first 3D-printed skyscraper in the city.

Using a special crane called a “minitank”, Cazza Construction Technologies is hoping to add a concrete and steel tower knitted together by a computer to the Emirate’s skyline.

Chris Kelsey, the 19-year-old co-founder of Cazza, also claims that his printers can produce a 2,000 sq ft home in a single day. Over in America, there’s an even more extreme plan, with Nasa working out if it would be possible to take a 3D printer to Mars.

In the UK such techniques are in use by construction firms such as Skanska, which is “printing” concrete blocks at a facility at Loughborough University. It is hoped they will be used for big projects such as HS2.

Cazza is designing the world's first 3D printed skyscraper

Over in America, there’s an even more extreme plan, with Nasa working out if it would be possible to take a 3D printer to Mars

Unlike creating ready-made apartments in a factory using traditional labour, 3D printing is entirely done by computers.

“It has no frame of reference to the printers you or I can imagine,” says James Dearsley, a proptech consultant. “The best way of describing it is like a cement lorry with a chute.”

London-based architecture firm Facit Homes has recently completed a luxurious house in Highgate, north London, using what it describes as “digital manufacturing”, a combination of digital printing and traditional construction methods.

A house created by Facit Homes, partially by 3D printing

“Instead of bricks and mortar we use tech to produce the components,” says Rhys Denbigh, head of new business at the firm.

In this country, there are big hurdles to overcome for the technology to become widespread however.  Huge upfront investment is needed for such construction to be viable on a big scale and homes must be constructed in a certain way to satisfy planners.


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Beijing’s First MagLev Train Enters Testing Phase

Beijing’s First MagLev Train Enters Testing Phase :Beijing’s MagLev (magnetic levitation) train line S1 started undergoing testing and debugging in June 2017.

A trial run is expected before the end of 2017.

Developed in China by CRRC Tangshan Locomotive & Rolling Stock Company Ltd, it will be operated by the Beijing Suburban Railway between Pingguoyuan in the Shijingshan district to Shimenying in the western district of Mentougou. The 10.2 km long line will service eight stations:



3-Municipal Bureau of Mines






This will be the first domestically built Chinese MagLev train.

Named “Linglong” and manufactured in Tangshan in north China’s Hebei province, the train will silently operate at a maximum speed of 100 km/h and generate zero emissions. The first of ten trainsets was delivered at the Shimen depot in Beijing in December 2016.

China’s capital currently has 19 lines, covering 574 km, with a further 350 km being built this year in an attempt to curb serios air pollution caused by traditional combustion engines.

Local authorities say that up to 90% of the city will have at least one subway station within 750 meters by 2020, with all 16 urban and rural districts being served by rail.

Writer: John Carlo Ottaviani



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Optimism in US construction market

source Technavio

edited by kcontents

Written by Thomas Allen - 15 Jun 2017

The Commercial Construction Index, which launched this year, has produced a composite score of 76 for the second quarter of 2017, suggesting that US contractors are feeling optimistic about the year ahead.

The index is a new quarterly economic indicator produced by the US Chamber of Commerce and United States Gypsum Corporation (USG) – a US-based manufacturer of building products and solutions.

It is designed to gauge what is driving the commercial construction industry, with a focus on three key drivers of confidence – backlog levels, new business opportunities and revenues.

From these, a composite index is generated, on a scale of 0 to 100.

The research is developed with Dodge Data & Analytics, which provides insights and data for the construction industry, by surveying over 2,700 decision-makers from commercial and institutional contractor companies.

The second quarter score of 76 was up two points on the first quarter result of 74, which was said to be driven primarily by a bump in the ratio between actual and ideal backlog.

The backlog score came in at 81, which was up four points from the first quarter, and the new business score was reported to be 77 – up two points from the first quarter. Over half (59%) of the contractors surveyed reported high confidence in new business over the next 12 months.

The index score for revenues also rose by two points to 71, compared to the first quarter, with 96% of contractors expecting revenues to grow or remain stable this year, compared to 2016. 40% expected an increase.

Two thirds (66%) of contractors said they expected to employ more workers in the next six months, indicating growth in the sector, which employs approximately 3 million people.

However, this optimism about the trajectory of the industry was tempered by the fact that 61% of respondents reported difficulty finding skilled workers. The biggest shortages were reported in the concrete, interior finishes and millwork, masonry, electrical, and plumbing trades.

Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the US Chamber, said, “The projected growth uncovered in this research is good news for employers and workers, but there is reason for concern in the lack of qualified talent available in vital specialities. To get our economy growing to its full potential, we must ensure that we have a workforce that is ready to fill the available jobs.”


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Anticipation Grows as Plans for the New International Airport in Orotina Progress

costa rica real estate development

  코스타리카 민간항공청 (Aviacion Civil)은 2025년 코스타리카의 방문객이 약 9백만 명에 이를 것으로 전망하고, 현 Juan Santamaria공항을 대체가능한 신공항을 2025년까지 설립할 계획이라 발표했다.

민간항공청의 경우 1996년 이래 Juan Santamaria공항 민영화 및 신비행장 건설에 대한 계획을 논의하였으나 뚜렷한 성과를 거두지 못했다.

민간항공청장 Luis Carlos Araya는 신공항 건설 프로젝트 규모는 15억불-20억불 수준이 될 것이라 밝히며, 현재 가장 유력한 부지는 Alajuela주의 Coyolar de Orotina지역이라 (현재 스페인사업가 소유) 밝혔다.

2025년에 신공항이 건설될 경우 현 Juan Santamaria공항 (활주로 3,012m규모) 은 국내선 경비행기 및 제트기를 위해 사용될 것이며, 신공항 (활주로 3,000m-4,000m 규모)은 국제공항으로서 대형비행기 (보잉 747-400, 보잉777모델 등)의 이착륙을 위해 사용될 예정으로 있다.

출처 주코스타리카대사관

황기철 콘페이퍼 에디터

Ki Chul Hwang, conpaper editor

After determining that expansion of the Juan Santamaria International Airport was not a viable option for the growing needs of Costa Rica, a contract for a new airport to be developed in Orotina was signed off on by the Costa Rica government in 2015.  Now, two years later, plans for the airport are moving forward with one milestone date just around the corner.

Original reports stated that by mid-2017 British company Mott MacDonald Ltd would deliver the conceptual design for the new airport including: runway locations, terminals and other aeronautical infrastructure as well as an inventory in the international financial community of possible sources of financing for construction.

With that date just ahead, we are looking forward to the progress on the highly anticipated airport at Orotina.

Once the new Orotina International Airport project is complete, it is stated that it will accommodate 10 million travelers every year. Being constructed on 3,000 acres to include three runways capable of handling aircraft as large as a Boeing 747-800 and A380, the estimated cost are around $5 billion USD.

Positive impacts are anticipated on tourism and the overall economy with the provision of jobs and improved infrastructure in the area.  With Orotina being so close to beautiful Pacific beaches, the airport will take tourism in the area and along the Pacific Coast to a new level.

Imports and exports will also see a positive spill over as agricultural producers will have access to larger aircraft and a larger number of direct flights to Europe allowing more good to flow to and from the country.

As an additional step forward, at the end of 2016 a delegation of aeronautical experts from South Korea gave a training to their Costa Rican counterparts marking the beginning of the lengthy process of establishing the new airport in Orotina. The training was part of a technical cooperation agreement between Costa Rica and South Korea, said Engineer Guiselle Alfaro, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure.

“They are very interested in cooperating with Costa Rica so the new airport incorporates the model of efficiency and technology employed at the Incheon airport,” said Alfaro.

After the 2016 training, Ennio Cubillo, Director General of Civil Aviation, added that the site study, overall design, and master plan for the new Metropolitan Airport of Costa Rica, is progressing satisfactorily and will be completed by the middle of 2017.

With all signs pointing to GO, we look forward to new developments on the new international airport at Orotina in the months ahead.


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Saudi and Bahrain planning new road and rail causeway

King Fahd causeway.  source constructionweekonline

edited by kcontents

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain plan to build a new road and rail causeway between the two countries to ease congestion on the existing link and will seek funding from the private sector, a document about the project showed.

Gulf Arab states including Saudi Arabia have historically financed infrastructure projects but while they still help with the cost of some, the oil price slump has forced them to slash spending and to consider bringing in private investment.

The King Hamad Causeway is expected to cost $4 billion to $5 billion, according to sources who attended an industry consultation event in Manama, and the two nations hope private firms and the state can share the costs, risks and profits.

The meeting in Manama was attended by officials from the transportation ministries in the two countries and more than 150 companies that are expected to build the project using the public private partnership (PPP) model.

The existing 25 km (16 mile) King Fahd causeway between the two countries has been open since 1986 and had average daily traffic of 31,000 passengers in 2016. But that is expected to double by 2030, the document distributed at the meeting showed.

Besides a new four-lane road causeway running parallel to the existing one, there will be a new 70 km railway connecting a passenger terminal in Salmabad and freight facilities at Khalifa bin Salman port in Bahrain to the Saudi railway system.

Eight million passengers per year are expected to use the rail link by 2050 and some 600,000 containers and 13 million tonnes of bulk freight are expected to be transported by the railway, which could be developed under a design, build transfer, or design, build, maintain and transfer basis.

While the project's technical details were clearly described in the document, key details of the PPP structure were still preliminary, said one of the sources.

The project is expected to be owned by the private sector through a new company with a 25-30-year PPP arrangement.

Private sector developers, co-investors, contractors and lenders should express their interest in the project by June 29, the document said. Advisers will be appointed in the first quarter of 2018 and pre-qualification requests are due to be issued in the second quarter of next year. (Reporting by Reem Shamseddine; editing by David Clarke



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UAE to use 'smart inspections' to ensure midday break compliance in 2017

The UAE's Ministry of Human Resources and Emiritisation (MOHRE) has supplied smart inspection systems to up to 18 teams to ensure compliance with this year's midday break rule.

by Neha Bhatia on Jun 14, 2017 

A ministry official said he is "completely confident" that high levels of compliance will be recorded this year, since companies are familiar with "the harsh consequences" of violating the rule. 

The midday break, due to commence on 15 June this year, prevents employees from working under direct sunlight between 12:30pm and 3pm.

A smart inspection system is being used by the inspection teams, which began their monitoring activities on 7 June, 2017.

These inspections covered compliance with the midday break's requirement of safety instruction issuance and distribution of awareness leaflets. 

Maher Al Obed, assistant under-secretary of inspection affairs at MOHRE, said the ministry is targeting 60,000 inspections across the country. 

He added: "Inspectors are scheduled to pay visits two hours prior to the 12:30pm starting point, to secure targeted locations as marked by the smart inspection system.

"The system analyses data following specific criteria [and] prioritises follow-ups accordingly, all to ensure speed and accuracy. 

Up to 18 teams have been deployed by the UAE's labour body for this year's midday break rule inspections 


"We [have] dedicated three inspection teams in Abu Dhabi, two in Al Ain, four teams in Dubai, two in Sharjah, two in Ajman, two teams in Ras Al Khaimah, two in Fujairah, and one in Umm Al Quwain."

Obed said firms penalised for non-compliance would be permitted to submit an objection letter to MOHRE, thus ensuring complete transparency. 

"I am completely confident that we shall note a high level of compliance, similar to that noted in previous years, [since] employers are aware of the rule and the harsh consequences [of non-compliance]," Obed added. 

Aimed at safeguarding outdoor workers – particularly from the construction sector – during the hottest months of the year, the midday break rule will run till 15 September, 2017. 

Certain activities have been exempted from the midday break's remit. 

This list includes mixing asphalt and poured concrete that can not be carried out or completed during the afternoon; works to prevent expected danger, reparation, damage, malfunction, or loss; and emergency work, such as cutting lines; water supply; sewerage; or electricity. 

Violators will be fined $1,361 (AED5,000) for each person found working during break hours.

A fine of up to $13,613 (AED50,000) could be levied if the case involves a large number of labourers.

The violating party also faces the threat of being downgraded and temporarily suspended from operations, WAM reported.

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Dubai roads are being painted red to show changes in speed limits

The colourful new scheme aims to prevent speeding and reduce traffic accidents.

Some Dubai streets have undergone a bold makeover as part of a plan to improve road safety.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has started painting parts of certain roads red, in a bid to make newly implemented speed limits more obvious.

Oud Metha Street near Bu Kadrah Interchange along the extension of Dubai-Al Ain Street, where the speed limit was recently reduced from 100kmh to 80kmh, received a fresh slick of paint, with more paint jobs planned for other roads around the city.

“The process involved colouring all lanes in an eye-catching style to alert road users of the new speed limit,” said Maitha bin Adai, CEO of the RTA’s Traffic and Roads Agency.

“Asphalt colouring will also be used in phases at locations subject to speed changes on other vital roads in Dubai. Therefore, we expect motorists to get used to this for their own safety and avoid offences and accidents resulting from speeding.”

The next roads to be coloured would be Sheikh Zayed Road near the fifth interchange, and the Jebel Ali-Lehbab Road near Lehbab, where the speed limit for both roads has been reduced from 120kmh to 100kmh.

Bin Adai said the stretch of red paint gives motorists enough of a warning that they are able to gradually reduce their speed without having to suddenly apply their brakes.

“We anticipate that this course of action will contribute to lowering the number of future accidents,” she said.

According to RTA statistics, traffic fatalities decreased from 332 in 2006 to 166 in 2015.


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The Tunnel of Eupalinos: One of the Greatest Engineering Achievements of the Classical World

(Read the article on one page)

Tunnel of Eupalinos (Eupalinian tunnel) 

19 JUNE, 2016 

The Tunnel of Eupalinos (or Eupalinos Tunnel) is an ancient tunnel that functioned as an aqueduct. This tunnel is located on the Greek island of Samos, and has been considered as one of the most important engineering achievements of the Classical world. It has been claimed that the construction of the Eupalinos Tunnel represents the first time in the history of mankind that a project on such a scale had been undertaken. Moreover, the planning and mathematical calculations that went into this project may be said to be on par with those employed by modern day engineers.

History of the Tunnel

The Tunnel of Eupalinos was a project conceived during the 6 th century BC. During this time, the ancient town of Samos, now known as Pythagorio / Pythagoreio / Pythagorion, was experiencing a period of prosperity. Along with this growing wealth, the town also saw an increase in the size of its population. Unfortunately, water sources in the town were not enough to satisfy the needs of its people. To maintain the prosperity of his town, the tyrant Polykrates had to find a solution to this problem, and employed the engineer Eupalinos of Megara to build an aqueduct.

Entrance of tunnel.

source Hellenica World

source In-Samos

Little is known about Eupalinos today. It is said that he was the son of a man by the name of Naustraphos, and came from a place known as Megara, which is situated between Corinth and Athens. The aqueduct was not the first project that Eupalinos had worked on under Polykrates. It has been recorded that, prior to this, Eupalinos was also commissioned to build the cyclopean wall that surrounded the town of Samos, as well as the mole in its harbor.

Qanat Firaun, the most spectacular underground aqueduct of the ancient world

Tipón, Peru and The Hydro Engineering Marvel of the Inca

Aqueduct Project

Eupalinos’ later project was an aqueduct, which was to connect the town of Samos to the north of Mount Kastro. It was from this mountain that the town would get its supply of water. From a spring on this mountain, water was conducted into a covered basin / reservoir, which is today under the old chapel of a deserted village by the name of Agiades. This aqueduct was completely subterranean, and it has been recorded that the water, from its source, travelled to the town of Samos over a total distance of over 2.5 km (1.5 mi). 1036 m (3398 ft.) of this distance involved a bored tunnel, which is perhaps the highlight of this monumental project.

Eupalinos could have used a much easier method to construct his aqueduct. This is known as ‘cut and cover’, and would allow the water to flow in a channel along the contours of Mount Kastro. For reasons that are unknown today, Eupalinos decided against this course of action, and instead decided to build a tunnel through the mountain.

The sign at the end of the part of the Eupalinian aqueduct that is open to the public.

This feat was accomplished by having the tunnel dug simultaneously from both ends. Using only picks, hammers and chisels, Eupalinos’ workers, many of whom are said to have been prisoners from Lesbos, dug their way through solid limestone. Clay / terracotta pipes were also put into place to facilitate the flow of the water. It has been estimated the whole system took about a decade to build. It has been speculated, that, when completed, Eupalinos’ creation supplied the town of Samos with 400 cubic meters of water per day.

The sophisticated water technologies of the ancient Nabataeans

Ancient Samos and the museum of mysterious artifacts

The Tunnel of Eupalinos is said to have served its original purpose until the 7 th century AD, when it fell into disuse during the Byzantine period. Following this abandonment, the tunnel was turned into a refuge by the local people, who hid in there when they were attacked by pirates. The tunnel’s defensive role may be seen in the fortressing walls that were built inside this ancient structure just after its southern entrance portal.

Eventually, however, the location of Eupalinos’ Tunnel was lost. Nevertheless, this structure had been mentioned in Herodotus’ Histories, which prompted many to look for it. It was only in 1853 that a French archaeologist by the name of Victor Guerin discovered the first 400 m (1312 ft.) of the aqueduct from the spring at Agiades. Over the next century, more discoveries were made, and eventually, in 1992, the Tunnel of Eupalinos became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the ‘Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos’.

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China and Europe May Build A “Moon Village” in the 2020s

source ESA's blogs

edited by kcontents

The China National Space Administration and the European Space Agency want to work together to create an international moon base in the 2020s. Cooperation will be important in this new age of space exploration.

In recent years, multiple space agencies have shared their plans to return astronauts to the Moon, not to mention establishing an outpost there. Beyond NASA’s plan to revitalize lunar exploration, the European Space Agency (ESA), Rocosmos, and the Chinese and Indian federal space agencies have also announced plans for crewed missions to the Moon that could result in permanent settlements.

As with all things in this new age of space exploration, collaboration appears to be the key to making things happen. This certainly seems to be the case when it comes to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the ESA’s respective plans for lunar exploration. As spokespeople from both agencies announced this week, the CNSA and the ESA hope to work together to create a “Moon Village” by the 2020s.

The announcement first came from the Secretary General of the Chinese space agency (Tian Yulong). On earlier today (Wednesday, April 26th) it was confirmed by the head of media relations for the ESA (Pal A. Hvistendahl). As Hvistendahl was quoted as saying by the Associated Press: “The Chinese have a very ambitious moon program already in place. Space has changed since the space race of the ’60s. We recognize that to explore space for peaceful purposes, we do [need] international cooperation.”

Artist’s impression of a lunar base created with 3-D printing techniques. Credits: ESA/Foster + Partners

Yulong and Hvistendahl indicated that this base would aid in the development of lunar mining, space tourism, and facilitate missions deeper into space — particularly to Mars. It would also build upon recent accomplishments by both agencies, which have successfully deployed robotic orbiters and landers to the Moon in the past few decades. These include the CNSA’s Chang’e missions, as well as the ESA’s SMART-1 mission.

As part of the Chang’e program, the Chinese landers explored the lunar surface in part to investigate the prospect of mining Helium-3, which could be used to power fusion reactors here on Earth. Similarly, the SMART-1 mission created detailed maps of the northern polar region of the Moon. By charting the geography and illumination of the lunar north pole, the probe helped to identify possible base sites where water ice could be harvested.

While no other details of this proposed village have been released just yet, it is likely that the plan will build on the vision expressed by ESA director Jan Woerner back in December of 2015. While attending the “Moon 2020-2030 — A New Era of Coordinated Human and Robotic Exploration” symposium, Woerner expressed his agency’s desire to create an international lunar base as a successor to the International Space Station.

In addition, its is likely that the construction of this base will rely on additive manufacture (aka. 3D printing) techniques specially developed for the lunar environment. In 2013, the ESA announced that they had teamed up with renowned architects Foster+Partners to test the feasibility of using lunar soil to print walls that would protect lunar domes from harmful radiation and micrometeorites.

Multi-dome lunar base being constructed, based on the 3D printing concept. Credits: ESA/Foster + Partners

This agreement could signal a new era for the CNSA, which has enjoyed little in the way of cooperation with other federal space agencies in the past. Due to the agency’s strong military connections, the U.S. government passed legislation in 2011 that barred the CSNA from participating in the International Space Station. But an agreement between the ESA and China could open the way for a three-party collaboration involving NASA.

The ESA, NASA, and Roscosmos also entered into talks back in 2012 about the possibility of creating a lunar base together. Assuming that all four nations can agree on a framework, any future Moon Village could involve astronauts from all the world’s largest space agencies. Such a outpost, where research could be conducted on the long-term effects of exposure to low-g and extra-terrestrial environments, would be invaluable to space exploration.

In the meantime, the CNSA hopes to launch a sample-return mission to the Moon by the end of 2017 — Chang’e 5 — and to send the Chang’e 4 mission (whose launch was delayed in 2015) to the far side of the Moon by 2018. For its part, the ESA hopes to conduct a mission analysis on samples brought back by Chang’e 5, and also wants to send a European astronaut to Tiangong-2 (which just conducted its first automated cargo delivery) at some future date.

As has been said countless times since the end of the Apollo Era — “We’re going back to the Moon. And this time, we intend to stay!”


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Mini excavator potential in India


A new report from Off-Highway Research looks in-depth for the first time at the mini excavator industry in India.

In contrast to the more mature construction equipment markets of Western Europe, North America, Japan, and even China, where compact equipment accounts for a large proportion of machinery sales, demand for mini excavators in India has to date remained very small.

source The Masterbuilder

edited by kcontents

However, sales have grown over the last decade from 22 units in 2007 to a point where sales could reach 1,000 machines this year. There are now ten suppliers of mini excavators in India, three of which also manufacture such machines in the country.

Off-Highway Research expects sales of mini excavators to continue growing in India for the foreseeable future. At present they only have niche appeal. However, the scope of usage is expanding and new applications are being established. Furthermore, with the increasing shortage of manual labour, dependency on machines will continue to rise which will help grow the mini excavator market in the future.

Off-Highway Research’s study on the Indian mini excavator segment forms part of the company’s Indian Service, and is now available to subscribers via the Internet Access Service. More information on the Indian Service is available here. The report is also available to buy as a stand-alone product. Click here for more details.


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