An inflatable form is filled with concrete to create a building. Photo: Automatic Construction

A New York-based start-up called Automatic Construction has developed a way to create quick construction using inflatable flexible formwork.

The concept is simple: roll out the reinforced flexible plastic 3D structure, for instance in the shape of a house, fill it with air, then pump concrete into the structure, and wait for it to dry.

The company says the process is 1/5th the cost of conventional building methods and includes reinforcement and waterproofing. This also provides energy efficiency, as it creates an airtight barrier. The process is also much faster because no scaffolding or other reinforcement is needed. Any type of material can be used to create the houses, as long as it can be pumped, like geopolymer concrete.

Once the structure is pumped full of concrete, facades, windows, doors, etc. can be installed. Plumbing is bolted to the wall and covered with foam insulation, though in the future the company aims to build the mechanicals into the walls.

Although the company currently offers a single-family home, it has plans for other structures such as commercial and military structures, tunnels, pools and perhaps even skyscrapers and housing on Mars.

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