This paper describes a number of next generation manufacturing technologies which may find applications in construction such as digital fabrication and rapid prototyping. It will also look at some of the work being undertaken within UK Government funded research projects within the overarching area of Freeform Construction. In addition to explaining the technical processes and products of these, the paper will explore the delivery management issues and theorise how these next generation technologies have the potential drive lean thinking deep into the heart of the construction industry. The technology and delivery issues will be presented in a conceptual model of construction manufacturing. The underlying premise for this research agenda is the static nature of construction – with the basic logic behind the processes being unchanged for centuries, construction is probably the last bastion standing against technological revolution. Next generation manufacturing technologies have the potential to drive the paradigm shift needed to achieve the changes the industry is being pushed towards. This paper provides a view of a different construction industry for the coming century and shows the processes that may help shape it along the way.
Construction manufacturing; freeform construction, digital fabrication, rapid prototyping, automation
Pasquire, C. , Soar, R. & Gibb, A. 2006, 'Beyond Pre-Fabrication - the Potential of Next Generation Technologies to Make a Step Change in Construction Manufacturing' In:, 14th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Santiago, Chile, 1-. pp 243-254