Automating Large Scale Waste Recycling and Sustainability

Today we take a forward look at new solutions for the seemingly unrelated issues of waste recycling and sustainability, using rail-mounted robots and 3D printing technology in combination with novel materials:


As you know, Autodesk is leading the way in sustainable design, was commended for its tremendous leadership in corporate sustainability metrics, and BIM is one of the main tools enabling the detailed building performance analysis required to achieve the high and noble goals we set ourselves.

Autodesk sustainable design solutions

3D Printing

Autodesk is also actively engaged in the work on 3D printing. Unbelievable things, and simple, small and practical things as well, can be achieved using 3D printers, by anyone, right at home, as explained by CNN in this 4-minute video:

Again, Autodesk is in the midst of the fray with 123D Make:

Note that the materials used to print can have almost any properties desired, including transparency and low heat conduction.

3D printers can build entire houses, as discussed in this one-minute video:

Robots on Rails

Automatic window and building cleaning systems have been around for a long time. Here is a research paper from 1999 on automated cleaning of windows on standard facades by Schraft, Braeuning, Orlowski and Hornemann in Automation and Robotics in Construction XVI.

A more recent automatic window cleaning system, won the Khalifa University's Engineering Innovation Day:

Here is a four-minute video of an existing commercial autonomous multifunctional robot on rails working on high voltage power lines, in warehouses, in tunnels, and numerous other inaccessible or dangerous places:

Recycling Waste into Insulation and Curtain Walls

Combining the experiences made with existing mobile robotic systems with new materials is fuelling applications enthusing both sustainability and garbage recycling advocates, killing two flies in one blow: the waste generated by a typical office building is sorted and recycled into transparent and opaque materials that can be fed directly to mobile 3D printer robots that generate both insulation and curtain wall systems around a building of any size in real time.

The robots are completely mobile, sitting on rails mounted on a scaffolding system, which in turn is also mobile, navigating around the circumference of the building as the insulation and curtain wall generation progresses, enabling it to cover the entire building hull step by step.

Look forward to having your recyclable soda bottle grabbed right out of your hand and reused to insulate your office building :-)

Autodesk Sustainability Workshop

By the way, are you aware of the Autodesk sustainability workshop and certification program?

It offers free online resources teaching the principles and practice of sustainability in engineering and design, covering building and product design and including concepts, examples and tutorials.

Have fun learning and using existing technologies, and even more developing and realising your own revolutionary ideas!