HP robot prints construction site layouts

  • September 19, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Hewlett-Packard has developed an autonomous robot that prints the layouts of a construction site directly on the site.

Called SitePrint, it prints complex construction site layouts with pinpoint accuracy, in a fraction of the time it takes manually. SitePrint is available in North America through an early access programme starting this month.

At $11.4tn, the construction sector represents 13 per cent of the world’s GDP and shows a steady growth of 3.5% CAGR. Despite this, the industry faces challenges in productivity and human resourcing. While labour productivity in manufacturing has grown an average 3.6 per cent a year over the past two decades, the construction sector has only seen a one per cent increase over the same time period, according to McKinsey.

“Technology adoption and increased digitisation can help construction firms realise productivity gains,” said Daniel Martínez, vice president at HP. “HP has played a key role in bridging digital and physical worlds with print solutions for architects and engineers over the last thirty years. With HP SitePrint, we’re making it faster and easier than ever for construction professionals to bring an idea to life on site, while also providing layout accuracy and reducing costs derived from reworks.”

SitePrint is an end-to-end suite of technologies designed to automate the site layout process, including a rugged and autonomous robot designed to operate in the conditions of the construction site. Light and compact, it is transportable, including a hard case that fits all the components.

It comes with cloud tools to submit and prepare jobs to be printed, manage the fleet and track usage. A touch screen tablet allows remote control and configuration. Different inks are available for different surfaces, environmental conditions and durability requirements.

Designed for autonomous operation, including obstacle avoidance, SitePrint can improve the productivity of the site layout process. It can print lines and complex objects with pinpoint accuracy and consistent repeatability, while text printing capabilities bring additional data from the digital model to the construction site, improving communications between construction professionals.

“The existing manual layout process can be slow and labour intensive,” said Albert Zulps, director at Skanska, a construction and development company using SitePrint on two US projects. “Despite being done by specialists, there is always the risk of human error, which can result in costly reworks. Layout experts are a scarce resource who add a lot of value in terms of planning and strategy, but often end up dedicating most of their time to manual execution. HP SitePrint lets us do more with less, helping reduce schedules thanks to a much faster layout process, and allowing senior operators to focus on other critical activities like quality control.”

The precise positioning and navigation of SitePrint on the job site are achieved by linking to a robotic station. HP and Leica Geosystems, part of Hexagon, collaborated to integrate SitePrint with the Leica TS16 and Leica iCon iCR80 robotic stations.

HP and Topcon are collaborating to integrate SitePrint with the Topcon Layout Navigator and GT robotic stations.

Through more than 80 pilot projects to date globally, SitePrint has been tested across multiple environments, including residential, parking, airport and hospital projects. The final product and wider commercial launch are planned for 2023.