As the construction industry continues to evolve, so do the materials used to build structures. Innovative building materials are transforming the way we construct buildings, offering more sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective alternatives to traditional materials.
From 3D printed concrete to transparent wood, these materials have the potential to revolutionize the construction industry and make buildings safer, more durable, and more environmentally friendly. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of innovative building materials and provide a brief overview of some of the most promising materials available today. Whether you are an architect, builder, or property owner, this post will show you how these materials can enhance your construction projects and contribute to a better future for our planet.
Plastics account for a significant portion of land pollutants globally. They also take up to 500 years to decompose, some taking even longer when fortified with other compounds. As one of the biggest users of plastic products, the construction industry has been finding ways to cut down on plastic use. One of the innovations they’ve embraced recently is bioplastics, plastics made from renewable sources, such as corn starch or sugarcane. These plastics are biodegradable and do not release harmful chemicals into the environment. Examples of bioplastics used as construction and building materials are polylactic acid (PLA), which makes up modern insulation foam and wall panels, and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), which can be made into pipes of various sizes and applications.
2. 3D-Printed concrete
Concrete work has never been more efficient, thanks to the continuous development of mixing and curing methods. Previously dependent on traditional forming systems, this step in the construction process took a giant leap when the precast technique was developed and introduced. But even that didn’t achieve the output accuracy and precision contractors were targeting. But it is now achievable because of 3D concrete printing technology. 3D-printed concrete is made by printing layers of concrete using a 3D printer. It can be used to create complex shapes and structures that would be impossible to create using traditional construction methods. And because the exact shape and dimensions are achieved, this method helps reduce construction waste.
Graphene is a super-strong, ultra-lightweight material made up of a single layer of carbon atoms. It has been called the “miracle material” because of its many incredible properties. For example, graphene is 200 times stronger than steel, yet it is flexible and can be used to create transparent windows that are strong enough to withstand impacts, which is a step up from the typical fiber glass insulation. Many other modern construction materials, such as asphalt, thermal and acoustic insulators, and anti-corrosion coatings, are graphene-based. Although graphene is still not widely used due to high production costs, it will soon become a central component of basic construction materials.
Insulation is at the center of construction innovation due to its vital role in combating the impact of climate change. Among the latest inventions in this field is aerogel, a super-lightweight material made up of 99.8% air. It is the world’s lightest solid material and an excellent insulator. As a result, it can be used to insulate buildings and reduce energy consumption. Aerogel’s excellent insulating property is based on the principle that the farther away molecules are from each other, the harder it is for heat to be transferred. Adding this to the sustainable materials for buildings that contractors use will significantly improve the quality and comfort of modern facilities.
5. Self-healing concrete
While contractors aim for concrete that withstands compression and tension, they also desire solutions to concrete damage (like cracks and erosion) that do not require dismantling and rework. Not only will this save time and money, but it can also help instantly guarantee the safety of occupants. No wonder self-healing concrete dominated the market fast. It’s a material that can repair itself when it cracks. It contains microcapsules filled with a healing agent that activates when the concrete cracks. The healing agent then fills the cracks and restores the concrete’s strength. It boosts the durability of reinforced concrete.
6. Smart Glass
Ever had a pair of sunglasses that changes colour when exposed to sunlight to reduce the glare? That same technology is now being used in making smart materials in construction. Instead of sunglasses or ray bans, it is called smart glass. Unlike regular glass, it can automatically change its transparency or tint according to the light it receives. As a result, it eliminates the need for curtains or tinting to prevent sunlight from heating buildings. This can significantly lower power consumption as there will be no need to crank up the air conditioning and ventilation at specific periods of the day. It also provides an aesthetic value to the building.
7. Transparent aluminium
Another material that’s slowly making its way into the construction arena is transparent aluminium. It is a strong, lightweight, and transparent version of aluminium, achieved by bombarding aluminium with a high-energy laser. This rearranges aluminium’s atomic structure, resulting in a transparent material that is four times stronger than glass. Initially used for optical and semiconductor applications, transparent aluminium now has a wide range of construction applications, including bulletproof glasses, armoured windows, and insulators.
One of the biggest problems the construction industry faces is the unsustainable nature of concrete. Resources will run out at some point. Concrete recycling is already a breakthrough in slowing down the depletion of silica and aggregates, but it can only do so much. A new material, called ferrock, shows great potential, considering that it is 95 per cent made up of recycled materials, such as steel dust and silica. In addition, it is carbon-neutral and can absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Its production costs are still high, but as new methods and equipment become available, mass production becomes possible, allowing the use of this material for large-scale construction projects.
Innovation in construction is going in one direction—forward. New, more solid, and efficient construction materials will inevitably emerge and transform building and architecture as we know it. This continuous development will impact all aspects of the construction process, including data gathering and analysis. Mass adoption will also prompt changes in relevant legislation and regulations, necessitating a complete revamp of existing construction project management systems.
Contractors must leverage advanced tools, such as construction project management software, to be able to scale up once new technology and materials become available. In addition, this software must be able to integrate changes across the board to prevent delays smoothly.