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5 Unique Materials to Use in Your Next Build

Jason Hook

Head of Sales and Marketing

Dec 15, 2017 4:02:00 AM

Technology is advancing at an ever-increasing speed. This is true across many industries, including construction, and new materials are being developed all the time. It can be difficult to keep up with new materials and technologies, but as you incorporate them into your designs and builds, you’ll be able to attract new customers and become known as an innovator.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to work with the following five unique materials, consider ways you might be able to use one or more of them in your next build.


1. Shock-proof Concrete

Researchers have found a way to create shock-proof concrete, and it could be used in a variety of building applications. Shock-proof concrete differs from standard concrete in that it contains magnetite, which soaks up microwaves like a sponge. Carbon and metal components are also added to shock-proof concrete to add absorption and reflection qualities. 

Shock-proof concrete could be used in a variety of ways. It could be used to create special housing for electronics inside buildings because its reflective qualities would help to guard against electromagnetic pulses.


2. Cool Brick

Evaporative cooling has been around for years, but a new building material is revolutionising that old idea. Cool Brick is a 3D-printed alternative to HVAC systems, and it has the potential to change the way builders keep buildings cool and comfortable.

But how does it work? Cook Brick is a modular construction system of porous ceramic bricks. They’re held together with mortar, and each individual brick is printed with a lattice motif. When put together, the bricks create a network of micro-pores. Moisture is captured in these pores, and as the water moves through the network, it is heated and then evaporated, thus cooling the air and lowering the temperature in the building.

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3. Translucent Concrete

A new material called Litracon is made from a mixture of fine concrete and optical fibres. Cut into prefabricated blocks, this material resembles tile or stone, but light filters through it. It was developed by Hungarian architect Aron Losonczi, and it was considered as possible sheathing for One World Trade Center in New York City.

Although it’s expensive, it is stronger than glass. By weight it’s 96 per cent concrete and 4 per cent optical fibres.


4. Aerogel Insulation

More than 80 years ago, Dr. Samuel Kistler invented a silica aerogel, a lightweight solid derived from gel. The liquid part of the gel was replaced with gas, leaving a “puffed-up sand” with amazing porosity. The resulting material is an extremely effective insulator, and today it’s being produced as insulation for buildings. 

The product integrates aerogel into fibre batting, so it can be installed like typical insulation blankets. Its performance, however, is remarkable. For people who are serious about conserving energy, aerogel insulation can be especially helpful. It’s being used in residential and industrial buildings.


5. Solar Roof Tiles

Several different manufacturers are now producing solar roof tiles. Tesla has solar roof tiles that look like traditional roofing materials, such as textured asphalt, tuscan tile, and slate. SunTegra tiles integrate with the rest of your roof for a low-profile solar solution. Certainteed is manufacturing solar roof tiles as well, and they have several models to choose from.

Solar shingles are much easier to install than traditional solar panels. They don’t require any drilling, and they’re not extensions of the roof - they actually are the roof. Not only do these roof tiles produce electricity, but they’re also stronger than standard roofing tiles. Look for further developments in solar roofing tiles in the next few years.

Clearly, inventors and researchers are creating unique materials faster than we can integrate them into our buildings and designs. Look for opportunities to use unique materials in your next build, and enjoy the benefits of working with these construction innovations.

Don’t forget to use cutting-edge software in your construction business as well. Whether you need help with estimating or comparing subcontractors, we have up-to-date tools to help you run your business as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Get in touch with us to learn more.


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