The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by an increased focus on environmental sustainability and productivity, and the growing importance of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. In the last three years alone, there have been over 425,000 patents filed and granted in the construction industry, according to GlobalData’s report on 3D printing in construction: construction 3D printingBuy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 232,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the construction industry, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Construction 3D printing is a key innovation area in 3D printing

Construction 3D printing employs additive manufacturing methods to produce three-dimensional objects, utilizing materials such as concrete, cement, or other hardenable substances. This innovative technology enables the construction of intricate geometries and structures that would be challenging or unattainable through conventional construction techniques. Referred to as 3D printing in construction or 3D construction printing (3DCP), this rapidly advancing technology utilizes computer-controlled machinery to deposit material layers systematically, gradually forming the desired shape. As construction 3D printing continues to advance, it holds the potential to transform the construction industry, providing a more efficient, sustainable, and design-flexible approach to building construction.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of construction 3D printing.

Key players in construction 3D printing – a disruptive innovation in the construction industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to construction 3D printing

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
General Electric 44 Unlock Company Profile
Sany Group 42 Unlock Company Profile
XtreeE 39 Unlock Company Profile
DXC Technology 36 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 28 Unlock Company Profile
Sika 27 Unlock Company Profile
China State Construction Engineering 18 Unlock Company Profile
Bekaert 18 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Construction Group 17 Unlock Company Profile
Branch Technology 16 Unlock Company Profile
Armatron Systems 14 Unlock Company Profile
Saint-Gobain Weber 12 Unlock Company Profile
Schindler 10 Unlock Company Profile
Stratasys 9 Unlock Company Profile
Vinci 8 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 8 Unlock Company Profile
Mobbot 7 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 6 Unlock Company Profile
PERI 6 Unlock Company Profile
WobbleWorks 5 Unlock Company Profile
Midea Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Yingchuang Building Technique Shanghai 5 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Construction Engineering Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Carbon 4 Unlock Company Profile
Umdasch Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 3 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 3 Unlock Company Profile
Aeditive 3 Unlock Company Profile
UT-Battelle 3 Unlock Company Profile
Taisei 3 Unlock Company Profile
X Development 2 Unlock Company Profile
WinSun Building Tech (Shanghai) 2 Unlock Company Profile
Vicat 2 Unlock Company Profile
China Communications Construction Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
CyBe Construction 2 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon 2 Unlock Company Profile
Q-Bot 2 Unlock Company Profile
Oshkosh 2 Unlock Company Profile
MR Innovation 2 Unlock Company Profile
Consolis 2 Unlock Company Profile
Maeda Construction 1 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Huashang Luhai Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 1 Unlock Company Profile
ICON Eyecare - Management Team 1 Unlock Company Profile
8D Technologies 1 Unlock Company Profile
CSP 1 Unlock Company Profile
Laing O'Rourke 1 Unlock Company Profile
China Southern Power Grid 1 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

General Electric is the leading patent filer in construction 3D printing, followed by Sany Group and XtreeE.

Sany Group, a prominent global manufacturer of construction and mining machinery, is actively involved in ongoing research and development focused on construction 3D printing. Recognizing the transformative potential of 3D printing technology within the construction industry, the company is dedicated to creating innovative solutions that enhance efficiency, sustainability, and design flexibility in construction projects.

With a significant presence in industrial parks across China and international research and development (R&D) and manufacturing facilities in the US, Brazil, India, and Germany, Sany operates globally through sales offices. Headquartered in Changsha, Hunan, China, the company received a patent in February 2023 for a device designed to output fluid process materials, such as concrete, mortar, or adhesive. This innovative device features a distribution rod with interconnected rod arms, a process material-conveying pipeline, and a tool equipped with a buffer container and output mechanism.

Sany Group 's research initiatives in construction 3D printing are at the forefront of advancing materials, high-performance equipment, optimized structural designs, and integrated construction processes. The company's unwavering commitment to innovation is shaping the future of 3D printing technology in construction, fostering increased efficiency, sustainability, and design adaptability across diverse construction projects.

In terms of application diversity, Bekaert leads the pack, while Branch Technology and WobbleWorks stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Branch Technology held the top position, followed by Vinci and Stratasys.

Bekaert is a leading provider of steel wire transformation and coating technologies. Their diverse product range includes steel wire products, tire cords, heating cords, steel fiber, welded mesh, window film, fencing products, and wires for kitchen utensils and shovel ropes. The company specializes in coating technologies such as polymer extrusion, electrodeposition cladding, lacquering, hot dip, and powder coating. Bekaert's products cater to various sectors such as agriculture, basic materials, construction, energy and utilities, equipment, automotive, and consumer goods. With operations spanning Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, Bekaert is headquartered in Zwevegem, Flandre Orientale, Belgium.

Bekaert is at the forefront of R&D in construction 3D printing, recognizing the transformative impact of 3D printing technology on the construction industry. The company is dedicated to innovating solutions that enhance reinforcement strategies and improve the structural integrity of 3D-printed structures. Bekaert's ongoing research in construction 3D printing is focused on developing robust, durable, and intelligent 3D-printed structures. Their emphasis on fiber reinforcement, smart reinforcement systems, optimized strategies, and seamless integration with 3D printing processes is advancing the field and ensuring enhanced structural integrity for 3D-printed buildings.

To further understand the key themes disrupting the construction industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on 3D Printing in Construction.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.