‘Inflatable’ concrete homes are coming to the market thanks to this startup | News


Image courtesy Automatic Construction

A new solution to America’s multifaceted housing frustrations is blowing up in New York’s Hudson River Valley thanks to a startup called Automatic Construction.

The company says it has invented a new technique named the Inflatable Flexible Factory Formwork (or IFFF), which, with the help of an air pump and compressor, can inflate first the unrolled PVC formwork for the residential structure before a concrete mix reinforced by drop -stitch fibers is poured inside to settle.

The pouring process itself takes only about an hour to complete. 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.

Image courtesy Automatic Construction

“The prefabricated forms are built in our factory with reinforcements in place,” Bell shared with Archinect. “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.”

Image courtesy Automatic Construction

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 a remarkable $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.

Image courtesy Automatic Construction

Additional applications to commercial and military interests are also being explored. For now, the designs are the sole property 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 promises finally. “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.”

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