New York-based startup Automatic Construction has unveiled its new technique to build ‘inflatable’ concrete homes.
The novel approach, known as Inflatable Flexible Factory Formwork (or IFFF), uses an air pump and compressor to inflate an unrolled PVC formwork before a concrete mix is poured inside.
The pouring process itself takes only about an hour to complete and drop-stitch fibres are added to the mix for added strength.
After the concrete has cured to around 70% strength, shoring is removed while the membrane remains in place as a means of providing waterproofing for the structure.
Drywall, doors, windows, and cladding are added to complete the structure, which, for now, is finished off with rebar that CEO Alex Bell says may come pre-installed in the future.
Bell said: “The prefabricated forms are built in our factory with reinforcement in place.
“The forms are built to the client’s specifications. We can currently support 2-inch, 4-inch, and 8-inch cast walls/slab. The forms include two chambers, one for shoring during casting and one for concrete.
“We inflate the shoring first, followed by the concrete chamber. We work with client engineers or recommend a mix design including additives for flow and consolidation of concrete.”
The ADU prototypes come in 100- and 200-square-foot iterations, with another 650-square-foot two-story home design being tested currently.
Automatic claims the construction cost for each structure is only $10 to $30 per square foot and that its materials and construction method constitute an 80% difference in overall costs when compared to the delivery of traditional residential structures.
Additional applications to commercial and military interests are also being explored. For now, the designs are the sole propriety of the company, though Bell says they will look shortly to branch out to the design community for possible collaborations.
“We are building plug-ins now for software packages like Revit and other CAD/BIM solutions,” he added. “Architects will be able to upload from their CAD/BIM tools or direct to our website and upload the design of their house, building, water culvert, etc.
“We will cost out the build and provide quotes for delivered formwork as well as approved contractors and subcontractors.”
Image credit: Automatic Construction
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