Building with Inflatable Concrete Formwork and Other News

concrete truck

Here are our industrialized construction updates from February 2023.

Automatic Construction, an NYC startup, was one of eight 2022 Construction Startup Competition winners. Alex Bell, the co-founder, presented the company’s concrete building solution at the competition’s Pitchday in October 2022.

Bell’s and Tyler Robins’s company produces inflatable concrete formwork in a factory and transports it to the building site. The formwork consists of an outer house form and an inner shoring form.

On the site, ready-mix concrete is pumped between the molds that contain the necessary pre-installed reinforcement and spaces for openings. At the same time, the air is pumped out. 

A design software plugin generates the digital design of the formwork.

From months to hours

The startup claims its solution builds structures “in minutes, not months.” In addition, the prototypes have shown a 30% decrease in construction costs.

Bell firmly believes in concrete construction: “The future of construction is concrete. It doesn’t burn in wildfires; it doesn’t rot after hurricanes. It’s the second most used material on earth. It’s everywhere.“

However, he does not see 3D printing as a feasible solution: “3D printing has been around for 25 years for buildings. It continuously underperforms. It’s more expensive than traditional. It’s not the solution our industry needs.”

Sustainable and industrialized

Bell points out that their solution is sustainable. There’s zero jobsite waste, the buildings are airtight as the PVC house form is left in place, and they can use zero-carbon concrete.

The inflatable formwork is a “semi-industrialized” solution. Every design can be unique, which would probably not be cost-effective in panelized concrete prefab production. Automatic Construction’s technique applies to infrastructure construction as well.

A gold medalist

The jury of the Construction Startup Competition liked the pitch and the solution. They awarded one of the four gold medals to Automatic Construction.

You can read my interview with them and other gold medalists on AEC Business.


Introducing the Gold Medalists of the Construction Startup Competition

The 2022 winners

The 2022 Construction Startup Competition winners presented their solutions at the Pitchday during Procore´s Groundbreak conference in New Orleans. Of the eight winners, Automatic Construction, Carbon Limit, Exodigo, and Soil Connect took home the gold medals in their category. I had a chance to chat with their teams after the results were announced.

Read the interviews


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