Environment & Engineering

Building our future

Published Jul 6, 2021

Originally from Christchurch, Armano Papageorge moved to Wellington to start his bachelor’s degree in Architecture at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington in 2013 and has since also completed his Master’s. With aims to complete his PhD in January 2022, Armano is continuing to develop his research into sustainable building materials for the construction industry.

Through his research, Armano found that the architectural materials for construction had not been developed since introduction in the early 20th Century. As society has grown, so has the use of these materials, but new, more sustainable options need to be made available.

“The building and construction industry is very stagnant, but freeform 3D printing has the potential to progress the current building practices in place.” Explained Armano.

Armano has developed a novel construction product which will enable the building and construction industry to use 3D printing in the manufacturing of building materials.

Armano’s original concept was to create digitally generated, mass-customised, 3D printed concrete masonry units (CMUs). Working with Wellington UniVentures and better understanding the needs of the industry, Armano found that 3D printing concrete building products would lend itself better to larger structural building elements, such as an alternative to tilt-up slab concrete panels, and to conventional cladding systems such as brick veneers. Taking advantage of 3D printing capabilities, combined with an advanced knowledge of computational programming construction systems, Armano adapted his initial proposal in response to these discoveries, and has since been developing a digital workflow that can seamlessly generate concrete 3D printed materials.

The materials are printed using a concrete material extruder attachment to a 3D printer. They are then left to cure for 24-48 hours before being transported to the site where they are assembled and infilled with insulation, reinforcing and grout.

The use of 3D printing enhances the production process and the overall building use efficiency, making this an attractive model to use for those in the industry. The customisation of Armano’s work could have a profound impact on the cost of building materials and significantly effect supply chains, including the speed of assembly.

Armano knew a little about Wellington UniVentures through a fellow student, Ged Finch, who had worked with the Wellington UniVentures team to establish his company, X-Frame. Encouraged by the support that his friend received from Wellington UniVentures, Armano was in touch with the team to better understand the market potential and what steps he needed to take to help get his idea off the ground. Armano connected with Liam Sutton, our Commercialisation Manager who specialises in architecture and design.

Liam explained: “Armano has developed a solution to outdated and unsustainable methods of construction and is highly motivated to see his system available on the market. He is excited to learn the skills necessary to establish a company and we’re pleased that we have been able to help facilitate that vision.”

Liam suggested that Armano apply for the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme to strengthen his entrepreneurial aspirations.

Armano told us: “I always knew that I wanted to take my work to market, but my knowledge around how to do this was limited. I needed the support to get my idea off the ground and was grateful to have the expertise of Wellington UniVentures right from the start.”

Armano has used this time on the programme to mature his idea to better suit the needs of the building and construction industry.

Armano told us: “I hope to be a pioneer of concrete 3D printing within Australasia and further my work with potential industry partners. Concrete printing is a relatively untapped market within Australasia, particularly in New Zealand. And with a housing crisis that has tormented our country for over a decade, it is evident that traditional construction methods cannot keep pace with the increasing demand for more housing. We need a foundational shift in the way we view construction.”

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