Monday, July 22, 2013

Glue Sticks for Buildings?

As a long time advocate of modular construction I read the article linked and excerpted below with great interest.  The article describes certain research conducted by Germany scientists looking for a more efficient way to bond modular components in the fields.  Nails, staples, bolts and welds traditionally serve as the attaching mechanism in the field and much the work in construction entails nailing, stapling, bolting or welding component parts in place.  The researchers want to insert special adhesives to bond component parts.

These advances, combined with other advances in BIM, IPD and materials science - concrete in particular - are increasing the speed and efficiency with which planning, design and construction services can be delivered.  Don't fall behind!

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut, WKI in Braunschweig have come up with an alternative together with their colleagues from the Institute of Joining and Welding at the Technische Universität Braunschweig. "We've developed an adhesive tape that sets in under a minute to reliably and durably bond together the individual components," says Dr. Andreas Zillessen, a scientist at the WKI. "The adhesive sets at the push of a button, so to speak. This means that when we apply the adhesive tape when assembling components, we can wait as long as we like without the adhesive drying out, as other kinds of adhesive would."
The secret is inside the material itself: unlike ordinary adhesive tape, it does not consist merely of a backing material and adhesive -- it also has its own "heating system." This is a metal strip that is coated with adhesive on both sides. If you want to stick together two strips of wood, you place the adhesive tape in the right position, put the strips of wood in place, and then let an electrical current flow through the metal strip. The metal heats up, and the adhesive melts and binds to the wood. First the adhesive is turned liquid by the heat so that it gets into the pores in the wood; then it sets very quickly once it cools. "At present, the gluing and setting combined take around a minute, but over the long term we want to make these processes significantly shorter," explains Zillessen.

My preference would be to see automated demolition mechanisms built into the process as well.  Land is the enduring asset in real estate and in the past 100 years we've moved from permanent - and spectacularly beautiful buildings ala the great churches and cathedrals of Europe etc, - to what are, for all practical purposes, disposable buildings.  The problem is disposing of our throw away buildings has become extraordinarily expensive.  So let's give some thought, as an industry, to the demolition costs while, at the same time, advancing ideas like the one linked above.  For example, could the adhesive be designed in a way that enabled ease demolition by re-heating the metal plates when it came time to tear down the facility?  Food for thought.

Welcome to the Collaborative Revolution!

James L. Salmon, Esq.
Collaborative Construction
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Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
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