This idea is a part of The Circular Construction Challenge – Rethink Waste
Digichalk develops a revolutionary new process, in which construction waste is transformed to an innovative, robotically produced building product - Digichalk building modules. The project takes its point of departure in the escalating global challenge of production and storing of construction waste: over the next 20 years an area equivalent to 3.5 times the entire build area of USA will be redesigned, transformed and rebuild across the globe. The construction industry today consumes 50% of the world’s total extracted minerals and materials, but with a rapidly growing economy and the associated environmental costs, this solution is not sustainable. A segment in the classes of waste is EPS – Expanded Polystyrene used for packaging and building insulation. The global consumption of EPS is 14 million tons per annum, and in 2011 Denmark consumed 6500 tons, of which estimated 65% tons is direct waste production and 35% is used as permanent insulation in buildings.
I 2012 Odico Formwork Robotics was founded with the purpose of industrially scaling a new type of process: robotic hot-wire cutting of EPS formwork for cost-effective production of non-standard concrete structures. Odico has as the first company worldwide successfully commercialized the technology in full scale construction, including international prestige projects such as the Fjordenhus Kirk Kapital HQ, designed by Studio Olafur Eliasson. Odio became in July 2018 the first Danish robotic company to become publicly held on Nasdaq First North Copenhagen.
As part of Odico’s production, significant amoutns of EPS-waste is generated in the form of respectively formwork cut-offs, and used formwork. Today, Odico is recycling the cut-off and used formwork by firstly shredding the EPS to granulate and secondly compacting it into briquettes. The briquettes are sold to EPS-manufacturers, who integrate them as part of the manufacturing of new EPS stock blocks.
The establishment of this recycling workflow has engendered the development of a new concept: Digichalk. By casting EPS-granulate with hydraulic limestone and cement, a building block is established with comparable lightness and compressive capacity as light concrete, but holding at the same time the insulating properties of regular EPS as well as the indoor climatic regulation capacities and architectural material appearance as limestone and whitewashed walls. This includes limestone’s celebrated properties in regulating air humidity and material ‘breathability’, resulting in a healthy and comfortable interior climate. Since the EPS granulate is embedded in limestone mixture, the digichalk modules are fireproof and non-combustible. Through this, a building component is created, which can replace current systems consisting of interior walls, exterior walls and insulation by a single component module, hereby drastically reducing construction costs of light walls and related structures.
After finished casting of the digichalk blocks, Odico’s revolutionizing robot solution, Factory-on-the-Fly is used to abrasively cut the blocks to desired designs. Hereby each building block can be cost-effectively customized, and so in addition to offering an economic and environmentally friendly alternative to existing façade-solutions, it provides the possibility of creating advanced, curved and non-standard designs within regular building budgets.
Digichalk modules are produced from waste materials and are 100% recyclable. At the end its life-time, Digichalk blocks can be mechanically shredded in a simple process and recast to new modules with no waste production associated. The modules are in the first stages produced from Odico’s own EPS waste production and later, during upscaling, from EPS waste sourced from landfills or recycling stations, helping to reduce an estimated 9 million tons EPS waste production annually. Limestone is a naturally occurring material with a strong environmental profile and a low carbon footprint in its extraction process.
The vision is to establish a fully automatic, modular robotic recycling facility, which can be brought to construction sites using the means of regular container transport. With this facility, EPS is shredded; recast as Digichalk and robotically cut to match challenging construction designs. The method is demonstrated through an architectural, full scale prototype structure designed in collaboration with Zaha Hadid Architects, Søren Jensen Consulting Engineers A/S, Kalk A/S and Sto A/S, demonstrating the unique capacity for architectural design freedom.
Digichalk enables significant potential cost reductions in the erection of light walls and façade wall structures using a single block solution. Further at later stage, the application of limestone as binder can be augmented or replaced by conventional cement, through which a lower unit price will be achieveable, while providing the structural capacity of lightweight concrete and the insulation property of a three-layer conventional façade wall. Further, the robotic cutting of the modules enables entirely new design and construction applications, which is now currently not represented in the market. On the basis of these unique advantages, the project consortium expects significant potential for commercial scaling, resulting in a sustainable, net positive financial model over time.
Digichalk is executed in collaboration between Odico Formwork Robotics, Zaha Hadid Architects, Kalk A/S, Sto A/S and Søren Jensen Consulting Engineers. Odico is an international pioneer in architectural robotics with a long trajectory of technological and commercial break-throughs. Zaha Hadid is the world’s leading design office in advanced digital design. Kalk A/S (formerly Dansk Jurakalk A/S) is Denmarks leading provider of limestone for the Danish construction industry. Søren Jensen is an innovative consulting engineering bureau with presence in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Silkeborg and Vejle. Outside these actors, which have contributing directly to the project, the project group is inviting new critical competences to the consortium, with particular interest in contractors, building prefabrication and building product development.
Why Circular Construction Challenge
Digichalk is a new concpet, which is yet to be presented to the public. It has been tested through internal R&D, during which the manufacturing process has been established. Digichalk will now need to undergo external material testing and certification for documenting its properties; as well as its initial introduction to the general and professional public, including highlighting the unique architectural, material and formal potential of Digichalk modules.
Digichalk has the potential of becoming a financially sustainable development, which is scalable by its own income, once critical momentum has been achieved. However, a significant investment is needed to arrive at this point. Circular Construction Challenge represented a critical possibility to co-finance material certification, physical prototyping; supply vital network competences and finally establish a significant public exposure of the architectural potential of Digichalk. Without these elements, Digichalk cannot be established, and soCircular Construction Challenge represents a unique possibility, which will have determinate influence on the realization of Digichalk.
With Circular Construction Challenge as point of departure, the project group is establishing an ambitious project plan, which will lead the concept from early R&D to certified and construction ready product, and demonstrate the unprecedented design freedom through design of a high quality architectural prototype structure.
Odico was established in 2012 with the aim of transforming the global construction industry through architectural robotic technology. Since the founding, Odico has established itself as an international pioneer and top-innovator in the emerging field of construction robotics, carrying through a long series of remarkable breakthroughs. This includes the world's first realization of load-bearing concrete structures using robotic hot-wire cutting of EPS formwork for the Fjordenhus Kirk Kapital HQ by Studio Olafur Eliasson; establishment of fully automated robotic manufacturing for doubly curved facade production of the Opus Dubai resort by Zaha Hadid Architects; development of the transformative process of robotic abrassive wire-cutting that enables wire cutting of solid construction materials such as natural stone, light concrete and timber in speeds up to 100x faster than current technologies; and the development of hot-blade cutting - a technology for high-speed manufacturing of doubly curved, free-form EPS formwork at warp speed.
Odico collaborates with and has produced for leading design offices in the Danish and international AEC industry, including Bjarke Ingels Group, Zaha Hadid Architects, 3XN, Dorte Mandrup, Lendager Group Architects, NCC, MT Højgaard as well as leading wind turbine manufacturers Siemens-Gamesa, Vestas and SSP Technologies.
Odico became as the first Danish robotic company publicly held on Nasdaq First North on July 2nd 2018
Competences and achievements
Odico is bringing a unique set of competences to the table, guaranteeing successful project execution in the case of initiation. This encompasses:
- Internationally leading expertise in robot technology development within the construction industry.
- Comprehensive experience in R&D management of industrial research, including the management of 3 high-profile technology development projects under respectively the Innovation Fund Denmark and the Market Maturation Fund with total project budgets of +40 MDKK
- State-of-the-art digital production facilities encompassing proprietary robotic fabrication technology developed by Odico; 1200 m2 production area with electro-mechanical workshop and supporting facilities in CNC-routing, laser-cutting and 3d-printing
- Production experience in over 250 projects with elements of advanced design, realized in 6 countries, including Denmark, Norway, Italy, Belgium, United Kingdom and Dubai.
- National top level business experience and board representation, including former CEO of IBM Nordic and business group manager of TDC, Jens Munch Hansen (Chairman of the board); CEO of Betterhome, Niels Kåre Bruun; and entrepreneur CEO Anders Bundgaard. Odico has raised more than 30 MDKK in investment capital, in addition to over 12 MDKK in technology development grant support
- Cutting-edge software and hardware development teams with PH.D-level expertise in the areas of robotics, computer science and computational design