Huge Turnout for Engineering Seminar

24 Sep 2019

On 12th September we returned to the Royal College of Pathologists for our autumn seminar. The evening started with the prize giving to the winners of our student competition Structural Concrete 2019 by the chairman of the judges, Roger Hewitt. The main event of the evening were the three presentations on innovations using digital techniques. The first presentation was by David Scott of Laing O’Rourke, who are sponsors of our student competition.

David presented two of their new product-based building solutions, the D-frame and the M-frame.  The D-frame has been developed to take structure out of construction as the concrete frame is bolted together on site rather than constructed on site.  The “D” in D-frame is for 'demountable'.  The other aspect of the D-frame is that the structure does more than just holding the building up, it also provides the heating and cooling to the building with cast-in pipes, so the floors act as low carbon radiators. The M-frame is just starting to be developed and is designed to be used for residential buildings.

The second presentation was by Juan Jose Carretero from Peri on “Formwork in a Digital Age”. Juan showed the work that Peri are doing to improve communication between designers and constructors to improve efficiency. Peri have developed software that will work with any BIM package so that clashes can be detected prior to site works.  On site, their software provides a 3D visualisation from a QR code so that constructors can see the full formwork system, including sections through the formwork.

Finally, Rob Moulds of BAM Nuttall presented the work that is being done by BAM in the Netherlands, where they are producing 3D printed concrete elements, including several cycle bridges. The concrete is placed by nozzle, controlled by a robotic arm. This means that, unlike normal precast concrete where repeatability is key so that the same moulds can be used, each piece can be different. The team working on the project are currently investigating reinforcing the concrete with fibres.

There was a lively question and answer session following the three talks, with many people asking questions about the 3D printing in particular.

Written by - Jenny Burridge, head of structural engineering at The Concrete Centre