Keystone Group is delighted to announce that Keyhouse – its revolutionary 12 Hour House – has been highly commended in the Innovation category at the 14th Annual Construction Excellence National Awards 2020.

The prestigious awards showcase excellence in the built environment and are part of a national programme of nine regional awards covering England and Wales. The commendation at the national awards recognises the company’s ground breaking Keyhouse. An innovative flat pack system which brings the reality of a factory built home to those housebuilders wanting to take the next move in offsite construction, it can be assembled on site in just 12 hours. The highly commended accolade follows a regional award win for the East Midlands.

Cathal Nicholas at Keystone Group said: “This is a fantastic achievement. The Construction Excellence awards are revered throughout the industry. The recognition is testament to our vast manufacturing and technical expertise, and the same ground-breaking innovation that can be seen across the Keystone Group. The Keyhouse 12 Hour House offers tremendous potential for clients who value the opportunity to fast track completion of homes with the minimum of onsite labour.”



Commenting on the standard of the awards, the judges from Constructing Excellence said: “The quality of the entries and winners to these awards demonstrates just how much the construction industry is progressing and the Keystone Group are very much at the forefront of that.”

The Keyhouse system is based around a series of factory built components that are delivered to site. Once on site a team of four people can construct the house in just 12 hours delivering the complete structure of a brick finish on a robust concrete outer leaf with an internal insulated timber frame, along with floor cassettes, staircase and a pre-tiled roof. It is watertight, airtight-insulated and ready for the first fix. This enables the housebuilder to add additional value and offer homebuyers a personal choice of finishes.

The Keyhouse flat pack system has inherent design flexibility. The company’s design team can work with architects, housebuilders and developers to adapt the concept design to suit most house requirements. The system can also accommodate ‘stepped’ and ‘staggered’ site layouts.



To find out about Keyhouse, visit

Hexagon Purus selected for hydrogen fuel cell project for construction equipment

Hexagon Purus will, for the first time, contribute to the development of zero-emissions equipment in the construction industry. Hexagon will deliver a 700 bar turn-key renewable hydrogen storage system for a demonstration project with a heavy equipment manufacturer to develop a fuel cell powered construction machine. The project will advance the understanding of the viability of hydrogen fuel cell power as a replacement for a traditional internal combustion engine to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

About the market

Unlike conventional diesel engine-based equipment, hydrogen-based electric construction equipment uses electricity produced through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen as its power source, meaning that there are no emissions of toxic gases or greenhouse gases into the air.

“The construction sector is undergoing a number of changes that could have a far-reaching impact. In the future, homes, offices and large infrastructure projects could be built using this zero-emission equipment,” says Todd Sloan, EVP Hexagon Purus Systems. “We are excited to enter this segment. We believe in clean air everywhere and we look forward to further projects to enable zero emission technology in the construction industry”.



About Hexagon Purus
Hexagon Purus, a Hexagon Composites company, is a world leading provider of hydrogen type 4 high-pressure cylinders, battery packs and vehicle systems integration for fuel cell electric and battery electric vehicles. Hexagon Purus enables zero emission solutions for light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles, buses, ground storage, distribution, maritime, rail, aerospace and backup power solutions.

Learn more at and follow @HexagonPurus on LinkedIn and Twitter.

A US company launched in November 2020 to offer developers fast modular buildings has brought in heavyweight manufacturing executives, including from Tesla, to develop its engineering and automation capacity.

The company, called iBuilt, with head offices in New York and factories in Pennsylvania, grew out of long-established modular builder Deluxe Modular and claims to be able to deliver multi-storey buildings 20% cheaper and 50% faster than conventional construction can.

Kazim Aya was vice president of advanced automation at Corvac Composites, a supplier of airflow management and water-deflection systems to the automotive industry (iBuilt)

It says its proprietary BIM platform allows it to produce full designs and drawings in 30 days with a guaranteed price and construction schedule and the promise of no change orders.

On 6 January iBuilt announced that Gonzalo Gonzalez, former senior director of manufacturing engineering at Tesla, had joined as chief manufacturing officer, and on 22 February it said supply-chain automation veteran Kazim Aya had taken up the post of chief engineering and automation officer.

“iBuilt is disruptive. This company is reimagining the fundamentals of the construction industry by streamlining the design and build processes and making great strides towards efficiency,” said Gonzalez. “Although the construction industry is one of the largest in the world, it’s the least digitised and has lacked innovation for decades. Joining the team presents an opportunity to be a changemaker and to create better and more efficient ways to build.”


The company joins Silicon Valley start-up Katerra in attempting to lure developers to tech-driven modular construction. Katerra, however, has struggled with delays, cost overruns and layoffs. Earlier this year it emerged that its investor SoftBank had to inject another $200m into its coffers to prevent it from having to seek protection from creditors.

iBuilt says it has more than $150m in signed orders for buildings, and $600m of new deals in negotiation.

Kazim Aya joins iBuilt with 40 years of experience in supply chain management, manufacturing, automation technology and quality control systems. Before iBuilt, he was vice president of advanced automation at Corvac Composites, a supplier of airflow management and water-deflection systems to the automotive industry.

“I was instantly drawn to iBuilt because the company is on the front line of innovation in the construction industry,” he said.

“No one in the industry does robotic-automated manufacturing and implementing this technology into our unique design-build-operate process will completely change the way buildings are built and enable us to deliver better buildings. Our new way of building will be as transformative as when the assembly line was introduced to automobile manufacturing 100 years ago.”


Source: Global Construction Review


The modular housing firm owned by Swedish furniture giant Ikea is in talks with several councils over potential developments.

Graeme Culliton, UK managing director at BoKlok, said the developer is in “decent dialogue” with two local authorities and has spoken to roughly 12 others.

Since entering the UK market in 2019 BoKlok, which is a joint venture between Ikea and Swedish construction giant Skanska, has already signed deals with Bristol, East Sussex and Worthing councils.

In addition to these sites, Mr Culliton said BoKlok has another three sites across the South of England that it is hoping to start this year, alongside other projects in various stages of planning.

BoKlok has also signed a 1,000-home joint venture with Vivid, as well as an agreement to build 750 homes with Abri, renamed after a merger between Yarlington and Radian.

Mr Culliton said BoKlok is “not necessarily” looking to partner with any other housing associations at the moment.

He added: “We’re a small business so servicing lots of different conversations and lots of different relationships is really difficult.

“Also we want people that really understand the modular product that we’re providing and are working with us on it.

“The UK markets, and certainly the UK bank and financing areas, still ask a lot of questions and set a very high bar for modular and certainly timber-framed modular like we are.

“So to have partners that really understand that business and what we stand for is important to us and if we had too many of those I’d be worried that the message gets diluted.”

Since first being established in the 1990s, BoKlok has delivered over 14,000 homes across the Nordics, the majority of which are in Sweden.

Mr Culliton said BoKlok’s aim in the UK is currently “to have really happy customers and not to be too fixated by how big you can be”.

“We want to prove the business will work here in the UK really successfully with really happy customers. Once we’ve got to that point we’ll talk about how big it could be,” he added.



The developer’s first UK homes are set to complete in Bristol this year, with residents expected to move in from September.

Boklok has already sold 79 of the homes back to Bristol Council to be used as council housing.

Applications will be accepted for the first market sale homes on the Bristol scheme from Monday, with residents being chosen via a ballot process.

BoKlok offers flats ranging from one to three bedrooms, as well as one and two bedroom houses.

The houses are manufactured by the UK-based modular firm TopHat and the apartments are manufactured by a company called Harmet, based in Estonia.

Mr Culliton said BoKlok has signed five-year agreements with each of these manufacturers and currently has no plans to build its own factory in the UK.

He said BoKlok’s homes are “just to the right” of affordable housing costs and are designed to be affordable for a nurse and police officer buying a house together.

While modular is often promoted as a cheaper alternative to traditional building, Mr Culliton said BoKlok is not yet at the point where it can build houses at a cheaper rate.

He said he believes the firm is probably two years away from the point where it will benefit from economies of scale in order to drive down construction costs.


Source: Inside Housing


Demand is increasing for wind power in Europe, forcing turbines to produce more and more power. They’re getting bigger as a result. This is creating logistical problems.

Now enter Modvion, a small Swedish start-up specializing in turbines made from laminated-veneer lumber (LVL). The company’s towers feature a patented modular system, enabling them to be easily transported and set up on site. They also feature many of the same advantages of cross-laminated timber.

“Laminated wood is stronger than steel at the same weight and by building in modules, the wind turbines can be taller,” says Modvion CEO Otto Lundman. “By building in wood, we also reduce carbon dioxide emissions in manufacturing and instead store carbon dioxide in the design.”



The company just received an investment from Vestas, the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world.

“The reduced weight of Modvion’s towers could allow for increased ease of transportation in logistically challenged markets,” Bo Svoldgaard, Vestas’ head of innovation and concepts, said in a statement.

Modvion installed its first turbine – a 100-foot tower for research purposes – on a Swedish island last April. It plans to build its first commercial tower in 2022.

The company hopes to expand into the U.S., saying its material builds upon the established laminated wood veneers already used in the construction industry.

Wind power has grown in the U.S. over the last few years. In 2019, wind power made up 7.3 percent of all generated electrical energy – surpassing hydroelectric power for the first time.


Source: Woodworking Network




Rick Murcock founder and CEO of US company Autovol thinks it will be.

An affordable apartment building for one of the nation’s most expensive markets is being built right now in Idaho.

The five-story building, with 301 apartments for seniors, isn’t for Boise. Instead, Virginia Street Studios will open in San Jose, the sixth-most expensive city in the United States, where median home prices hover around $1.4 million.

A Nampa company, Autovol Volumetric Modular, is creating the building module by module inside a 400,000-square-foot factory on Star Road that cost $100 million to build. As they’re completed, the 160 modules are loaded onto semi trucks and driven by Boise-based Western Home Transport to the Bay Area for assembly.

So far, 133 modules have been completed, with the rest to be finished next week.

“Building it here and and shipping it into California saved a lot of money and works to lower the costs for affordable housing,” Autovol founder and CEO Rick Murdock said in an interview. “We produce multifamily, multi-story affordable housing with the idea that we want to save you 20% of your costs and 40% of your time.”

Longtime Treasure Valley residents bemoan the meteoric rise in local house and apartment-rental prices, even as homeowners and landlords quietly delight in the money rolling in. But the shortage of affordable housing is a nationwide problem, said Murdock, a longtime Idaho resident with 43 years of experience creating modular products.

He was co-founder of Guerdon Modular Buildings, a Boise modular building manufacturer, and Prefab Logic, which provides consultation services for clients using modular construction.

“California alone needs 11 million units,” Murdock said in an interview. “It’s an excellent market, and they’ve got probably the highest need in the western United States, and their cost structure is extremely high.”

It’s more efficient to build inside a factory, where changes in weather don’t hamper production, he said. The savings in time comes from being able to prepare a work site at the same time construction is taking place. In a site-built project, all of the prep work must be completed before construction can begin.

“Obviously, our labor rates are less than what they are in California,” Murdock said. “We’ll build it here, ship it and save the project about $100 a square foot.”

The cost savings aren’t enough to make Autovol’s buildings attractive to the Idaho market, he said.


Housing costs in Boise area keep rising

The median price for homes sold in Ada County in January set yet another a record $454,000, which was $19,100 above December’s mark, also a record, according to the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service. In the past five years, the median price in Idaho’s largest county has nearly doubled.

Meanwhile, the number of houses listed on the market continues to shrink. In January, there were 269 houses for sale, down from 333 in December.

In neighboring Canyon County, where prices have traditionally been much lower, January’s median of $338,490 was down $955 from December. It was the first time in a year that the Canyon County median did not set a record.

Autovol began work at its factory, located north of the Lactalis American Group cheese factory, about a year ago. It has 115 workers, with the workforce expected to increase to 250 by the end of 2021 and to 300 next year.

Robots are used to build walls, floors and ceilings and to assemble the modules. The machines are meant to relieve the “back-breaking work” of construction, Murdock said.

Autovol workers install wiring, plumbing and fixtures, and they perform inspections. They also create software programs that control the robots.

The robots have names, chosen by children of employees. Murdock’s executive assistant, Merrick Macomber, has a daughter who named one of the robots Stacy. Others include Sunflower and Lilly.

“We’ll have names on all of our robots and googly eyes so when they move around, you see them move,” Macomber said.

Autovol found labor force mostly from SW Idaho

Nearly all employees — what the company calls Solutioneers — are from the Treasure Valley, he said. They range from entry-level workers to people with master’s degrees in electrical and engineering, he said. Salaries range from $15 to $25 an hour, Murdock said.

Most of Autovol’s employees have worked for Murdock for more than 30 years at his other companies.

“Our team is made up of people with great character who are allowed to speak what’s on their mind and give fresh ideas,” he said. “We listen and take care of each other.”

The company is adding employees. There are listings for electricians, machine operators, floor, wall and ceiling fabricators, among others.

Autovol has several other affordable housing projects lined up in California, including a 186-unit project in American Canyon, south of Napa; a 193-unit building in Oakland; and a 160-unit building in Santa Maria, west of Bakersfield.

On-site assembly of the $10 million Virginia Street Studios building is scheduled to begin March 2 and should take about three weeks to complete, Murdock said. The modules cost about $126 per square foot to build. Cranes will lift the modules into place.

“It sounds funny, but it’s a lot like stacking Legos,” Murdock said.

Even as modular buildings have improved in quality since the days of single-wide trailers, Murdock said he still has to educate potential customers on how Autovol units rival the quality of site-built buildings. The Virginia Street Studios will prove that, he said.

“Once it’s ready, you would never think it was built in a factory,” Murdock said.

After the Virginia Street Studios building is completed — Autovol’s first project — he expects it will help recruit new clients by having a place to show them.

“The finished building will speak for itself,” Murdock said. “I think it’s a better-quality product because you’re building it in a controlled environment.”

Murdock declined to disclose revenues. He said he expects Autovol to turn a profit before the end of 2021.

Autovol isn’t the only Idaho connection to the San Jose apartment project. The Pacific Cos., an Eagle residential and charter school developer that is a partner in Autovol, is the developer.

Led by CEO Caleb Roope, The Pacific Cos. operates 110 workforce and mixed-income developments with 6,000 units in eight Western states, along with three dozen senior apartment complexes with more than 1,300 units.

The Pacific Cos. is also developing the American Valley, Oakland and Santa Maria projects that Autovol is building.

Roope, who is an investor in Autovol with Murdock and several other people, could not be reached for comment.

When Autovol’s factory is fully operational, it will be able to produce 2,000 modules a year. That will hardly put a dent in the nation’s need for affordable housing, he said.

Murdock hopes Autovol’s experience will spawn competitors to better meet the need. He doesn’t care that he’s putting in the blood and sweat to perfect the process and make it more efficient.

“If we took all this information and held it to ourselves and didn’t share it, what gain would there be?” he said. “We’re going to produce only so many units out of this plant and after that, is that it? I’m looking at our entire industry. I see it through a slightly different looking-glass.”


Source: Idaho Statesman



Multiple applications: from residential construction to the artificial reef – again and again, new application possibilities for specialized building material from Bavaria

Worldwide more and more projects are being carried out using this innovative method. Korodur, the specialized building materials manufacturer based at Amberg and the CyBe Construction technology specialists from Oss in the Netherlands are reaping the benefits of it now, not only in residential construction, but by constantly developing new applications for 3D concrete printing – from outdoor furniture to environmental protection projects based on artificial ocean reefs.

Since 2012, this medium-sized Bavarian company and the Dutch civil engineering experts have been running their joint-venture, and have already completed a variety of quite sensational residential buildings. “We implemented our first joint project, a residential construction in Dubai, in the desert under the most difficult conditions. Since then, even more exciting properties have been added to this, for example in India, Japan, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. After putting in years of lab work on the task of perfecting our 3D printing method, this combination of robotics and intelligent mortar has been refined even further. In the process, we have not only gained new insights into the most efficient methods of construction, but have also explored completely new possibilities for applications”, says Frank Sander, Technical Manager at Korodur International GmbH.

Efficient, fast and inexpensive

The CyBe MORTAR, a mortar designed specially for 3D printing, is applied layer by layer in this process by means of robots, in a short time forming a wall or column with a high load-bearing capacity. CyBe’s 3D printers reach a speed of up to 500 mm/s. Thanks to the CyBe MORTAR building material developed by Korodur, units can be manufactured in one complete piece. Via the integration of an additive, the concrete can solidify very quickly, thus reducing the printing time significantly.

The particular advantages of this method are, on the one hand, a considerably shortened construction time and the cost savings involved. On the other hand, it offers architects and planners completely new design options that go beyond those of conventional construction. The buildings created in this way can be replicated any number of times with identical floor plans or simply adjusted as appropriate to cater for varying circumstances and requirements.

The 3D printing robots can be used, as required, on the actual construction site or for the prefabrication of components in an arbitrarily located workshop. In addition, there are mixed forms in which a robot close to the actual construction site produces various tailor-made components.


Sustainable, versatile and variable

“The possibilities for application are practically endless! Accurately-fitting service shafts are produced and installed on site in the shortest possible time lags using this innovative technology, for example, allowing damaged conduit access assemblies and connections to be replaced quickly. In addition, we have already created seating areas as well as combinations of tables and benches for outdoor use. Their exceptional design plus high degree of durability and stability all carry conviction. In any case, sustainability has always been a labour of love for us. A quite spectacular application in this context is the use of the product for the construction of artificial reefs. Thus, at critical locations we would like to help to revive the marine environment and assist the animals, plants and, in particular, corals in developing new habitats”, Frank Sander explains.

There are other ways, too, in which the Korodur/CyBe process contributes to climate and environmental protection – namely, in terms of its CO2 footprint: the quantity of carbon dioxide obtained during the production of the solely mineral CyBe MORTAR “made in Germany” is at least 20 per cent lower than that produced by conventional Portland cement. Nikola Heckmann, Korodur’s CEO, says emphatically: “This is an essential part of our corporate philosophy. We consider the careful use of resources and the reduction of emissions to be fundamental to our future viability. For the same reason we are committed to the development of new technologies and processes. This also includes our 3D concrete printing process, with which we have positioned ourselves not only in Europe but throughout the world as an innovative and reliable partner to the construction industry”.

Up-to-date information on CyBe MORTAR procedures and applications is presented for architects, planners, developers and other companies from the real estate sector on the site

Further information:;;


Wider adoption of off-site manufacturing and other modern methods of construction (MMC) has the potential to transform the delivery of modern, affordable, high quality UK housing.

MMC is a central concept of the UK government’s recently-published ‘Construction Playbook’, in which it sets out a new longer-term, output focused approach to contracting for public works. It can also help to drive the UK government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, as production can  be located away from centres of demand in the South East to access valuable manufacturing skills and widen employment across the country.

MMC is a general term used to describe a range of alternative off-site and on-site manufacturing techniques. There is a significant emerging market in MMC globally. As the housing and infrastructure construction sectors look to improve productivity and deliver on government infrastructure pledges while dealing with a lack of new entrants and an aging workforce, MMC will become an increasingly important delivery solution.

There is now greater confidence and positivity about the role of modern methods of construction. The challenge is to work out how UK government policies can work in tandem with the construction industry to deliver long-term, structural change

Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, recently chaired a discussion by a group of senior industry experts on accelerating the use of MMC; the barriers that currently exist and what types of government intervention could help to overcome these and expedite take-up.

Demand-led change

Demand-led change is crucial to accelerating the use of MMC: to quote one participant in our discussion, “you cannot force something unless people are asking for it”.

From an industry perspective, there is now greater confidence and positivity about the role of MMC. The challenge is to work out how UK government policies can work in tandem with the construction industry to deliver long-term, structural change.

The UK government is the largest buyer of construction services in the UK. Although there has been a presumption in favour of government departments using MMC to procure housing, schools, hospitals and infrastructure, more needs to be done to accelerate the use of MMC by government. The approach of Homes England provides an example to follow: by mandating the use of MMC in schemes and providing funding to MMC suppliers, it has sought to create volume certainty and improve the working capital position of MMC developers and suppliers.

Discussion participants suggested aggregating demand into a single, steady pipeline of work, to increase the attractiveness of MMC to private investors and facilitate the shift from pilot projects to best practice.

A product-based supply chain

MMC has the potential to positively disrupt the construction sector, helping the industry to transition away from being project-based to being product-based. Discussion participants told us that the supply pipeline is a particular problem for the construction industry. Low volume contracts are awarded on a project-by-project basis, creating inefficiencies and meaning that long-term demand is not created, as would be the case for product-based manufacturing supply chains.

Greater use of factory-produced component parts by one participant is already leading to better cost certainty for the company, while enabling it to be more agile when buying land.

Discussion also focussed on the maturity of the supply chain to deliver using MMC, and the need for greater capacity across the industry to achieve more widespread adoption.


A lack of bank lending availability for MMC factories was highlighted by participants as a “real barrier”. These emerging facilities lack the track record needed to give mainstream lenders the confidence to lend.

Homes England has stepped into this funding gap to some extent. For example, it recently provided £30 million in funding to Swan Housing for its modular factory, as well as £30m debt and equity funding for Urban Splash to allow it to scale up production to 1,000 homes.

The role of the public sector and Treasury will be crucial in helping MMC to mature to the point that it is an attractive proposition for mainstream lenders. We can expect a greater use of conditional funding, with developers required to demonstrate how they are aligned with broader policy agendas such as greater use of MMC, supporting the path to net zero, driving greater social impact and supporting the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.



Standardisation and interoperability

Participants told us that setting minimum standards, having a quality-led agenda and encouraging standardisation will be crucial to the success of MMC, and will help to build confidence among mortgage lenders and insurers. Another called for greater interoperability, as the number of bespoke projects at present prevents the government from supporting the industry in a strategic way.

The government-funded Construction Innovation Hub is looking at implementing manufacturing processes and systems which will enable interoperable tools and parts. This will allow construction companies to use different products from different manufacturers and factories.

One company we spoke to is now moving towards an interoperability model, having initially pursued a volume-driven approach. This company often works on long-term regeneration projects of up to 20 years, and so there is great value to them in having local suppliers provide interoperable components.

The role of the public sector and Treasury will be crucial in helping MMC to mature to the point that it is an attractive proposition for mainstream lenders

Quality and safety is of increasing concern for the industry, so there needs to be an assurance that MMC will drive higher standards and that this is the right route to go down, according to one participant. The NHBC introduced the ‘NHBC Accept Scheme’ for modular construction to drive increased standards in the industry following the fire at London’s Grenfell Tower, but obtaining certification is an expensive and administratively complex process that is likely to be off-putting for SMEs in particular.

Contracts, procurement and collaboration

Widespread use of digital tools could be a huge catalyst for MMC, but our participants were concerned about take-up, and a lack of digital skills, in the supply chain.

Government departments that procure directly have been operating under a presumption in favour of MMC for some time. However, a participant in our discussion said that this presumption is only just now becoming evident in procurement frameworks. Others said that a harmonised approach from central government, and a focus on making MMC a condition of funding, would be helpful.

One participant explained that their company has struggled with MMC on the housing side because of the procurement route. The business does not have a development arm, so it needs housing associations and developers to decide on MMC earlier in the process so that it can secure funding on that basis.

The planning process

One company told us it had encountered problems with local authorities not being up to speed with MMC, although generally the approach has been welcomed. It was noted that de-risking the planning element of projects and the time associated with it would be a huge step forward.

One participant gave the example of Dorset City Council, which has adopted a process of pre-approving different types of technologies and using a pattern-book approach. This has worked well, with the participant noting that the approach can be adopted by other local authorities.

Another participant said that MMC could help drive the climate change agenda in the planning process and align with policies at scale.

Value and sustainability

MMC’s role in driving social impact and sustainability is an area of focus for the Construction Innovation Hub. The industry body has published a ‘value toolkit’ which will enable users to make informed and weighted value-based choices. The idea is that value-based decision making will ultimately become the norm rather than the exception.

Another participant underlined the fact that some 40% of CO2 comes from buildings, so we need to look at their lifetime performance. The participant said that the government needs to focus on MMC to reduce carbon, tackle climate change and make communities fit for purpose in the future.



Floor fitters and home owners alike will be all too familiar with the curse of squeaky floorboards. Time after time the culprit is the fasteners; nails working loose over time, leading to expensive callbacks and customer dissatisfaction.

While it’s well known that screws provide a tighter grip power by pulling the boards together, fitting 6mm plywood to underlay has long presented a dilemma. The conventional 25mm timber screws used to fasten flooring carry a risk of damaging underfloor electrical cables or puncturing water pipes, with potentially dangerous and costly consequences, however the alternative use of 19mm nails can cause the plywood subfloor to lift from the floorboards.

Construction products manufacturer Simpson Strong-Tie has developed an affordable solution to the problem, which enables floor fitters to opt for the superior holding power of screws now with the groundbreaking new collated MTHZ19E underlayment screw.  Designed for the Quik Drive auto-feed screw system, the MTHZ19E allows fast and secure underlayment to subfloor installations, with a sharp point for fast start and a trim head for a neat finish. This new shorter length alternative to traditional flooring screws prevents the tip from protruding through the floor boards when fixing 6mm plywood, making it a safer way to fix 6mm plywood to subfloors.

The MTHZ19E can be used to fix to timber joists, or to fix to steel up to 0.9mm thick – for example in the installation of computer flooring, and can be easily removed and reapplied if access required to pipework at a later date. Nailed floorboards are notoriously difficult to remove intact.   While nail guns traditionally provide speed of fastening, they can produce inaccurate results and an inconsistent finish. The Quik Drive system provides a neat finish, with a flush consistent counter sink. And its ergonomic upright installation option will protect your knees and back, with no need to bend or crouch.  Quik Drive features a square drive for improved connection between bit and screw ensuring smoother drive. Nibs under the screw head help countersink into plywood giving a flush finish preventing floor coverings from settling in countersink recesses, and the intricate high low thread has been designed for stronger grip in timber and help prevent floor squeaks.

“In a competitive market client satisfaction is key to gaining repeat business. We all know that nailing is quicker however, I think this short term gain can be costly in the long run” explains Simpson Strong-Tie National Fasteners Sales Manager Natalie Dixon.
“Our flooring clients have told us many times over the years that a shorter collated screw is desperately needed and certainly preferable.
I have been told this issue with snagging a water pipe may not be initially visible. It can leak for days or months or even more causing substantial damage and costs in leak detection. Certainly now avoidable. Penetrating an electrical service pipe could be life threatening. Suddenly, squeaky floorboards may be the least of concern!
“So how do sub-contractors justify the time and slightly extra cost of a screw fixing when it is often the subby that is working on the tightest of margins with little room for error? We understand this is vital to our customers.
“Other collated systems can have up to 10% of the screws in a strip fail. It’s costly, fiddly and an interruption to getting the job done and moving on to the next. Our tests showed that Quik Drive and the MTHZ19E screw had very few (if any), failed screws. Much less than one screw in 50 in fact.”
“Simpson Strong-Tie is a global leader in construction products and we simply do not put our name to anything less than excellence. Knowing the product development that has led to this release – I have no problem standing behind this product with 100% commitment and understanding that it will save our customers time and money.”

The MTHZ19E screws are collated on flat tape, which is different to the usual Quik Drive collation, so there is also a brand new QDBPC19EF Quik Drive 19mm flooring screw attachment available to run the screw through; precision-engineered and is manufactured to the highest standards for guaranteed quality, performance and reliability.

Less torque. Less time. More fastening.


Demand for our MTHZ19mm Quik Drive System is already very high. Call Natalie on 07971147961 for information on your nearest stockist or to book a demonstration.




Students at ETH zurich have used innovative technology to create an extremely lightweight pavilion using bamboo. The project demonstrates the possibilities of digital fabrication combined with natural construction materials such as bamboo — a rapidly renewable and high-​quality raw material. Bamboo can be compared with hardwood species, but due to its hollow core, is extremely light-​weight and elastic. It is for this reason that bamboo has been used for centuries in earthquake-​prone areas of Asia.

Visually reminiscent of the arch of a gothic cathedral, but based on state-​of-the-art technology, the digital bamboo pavilion was designed and built by ETH zurich students of the MAS in architecture and digital fabrication (masdfab).  The students used bamboo to create a pavilion weighing just 200 kilograms (440 lbs). Spreading in three directions to cover a total area of more than 40 square meters (430 square feet), its minimal supports contribute to the ethereal nature of the structure. This design-​to-fabrication process depends on digital technologies, using purpose-​made digital design tools to generate this ultralight yet complex structure in earthquake-​prone areas of Asia.

More than 900 bamboo poles have been connected through digitally designed joints and manufactured with sub-​millimetre accuracy in high-​strength nylon and stainless-​steel using 3D printing technologies. Digital fabrication enables all parts to be generated automatically and developed to meet all mechanical requirements. This included not only the complex geometry and structural specifications for each joint, but also the tolerances required for the non-​standard assembly of this natural material. Added to these connections are hinge plates, cables, and anchors — resulting in a total of 379 connections and a very large number of small parts.

The five-​meter-high (16 ft.) pavilion creates protective shade with precise and detailed textile panels that extend the intrinsic pattern of the structural elements. With this in mind, the students designed elements to be 3D printed using a recyclable, UV-​resistant, and malleable plastic onto a lightweight Lycra textile. 3D printing locally reinforces the base material, transforming it into bespoke resistant and flexible shading panels.

‘The construction system developed for this project aims to reduce the logistical effort in construction, demonstrating how advantages of digital fabrication contribute to a more sustainable building culture,’ explains marirena kladeftira, doctoral student at the chair of digital building technologies, who is researching the potential of 3D-​printed connections for innovative and sustainable space frame structures for architecture.

The team behind the project says that this approach could be used wherever bamboo is available and produced in a cost-​effective manner. Furthermore, the design-​to-construction process developed for the bamboo pavilion could even be applied to other materials. Thanks to the modular design, the structure can be assembled and disassembled extremely quickly.

The digital bamboo pavilion was assembled on-​site at the Zurich architecture centre (ZAZ) in just 48 hours in summer 2020, before being disassembled in the same short time. Though the project is no longer on exhibit at the ZAZ, the team hopes that it may soon go on tour including a prolonged stop at the ECC exhibition in Venice, in marinades’ gardens from may to October 2021.


Source: Design Boom