We have all been stuck in traffic, likely many times in our lives, slowly inching past miles of roadwork, while growing increasingly frustrated at our stagnant states. For John Smith however, the founder of Advanced Paving Technologies, Inc. it was being stuck in traffic that served as inspiration for his innovative new technology: a 3D asphalt paver.
His epiphany came when he noticed that the same road deformations and depressions kept reappearing even after they had been repaved. He explains that the current method of repaving roads does not account for the extra cement needed to compensate for these depressions therefore a long lasting smooth and evenly surfaced road is virtually impossible. His design for a 3D asphalt paver would make up for these surface inconsistencies, and could potentially revolutionize the existing method of paving and repaving roads, making the process “better, faster, cheaper and cleaner”.
On October 15, 2015, Advanced Paving Technologies will be launching a crowdfunding campaign of $60,000 in order to make their design for the 3D asphalt paver a reality. This will mark the first ever crowdfunding campaign for a piece of road technology. The $60,000 will go towards funding the core research on the 3D asphalt paver, which will be done in association with the UC Davis Pavement Research Center.
Essentially, the process of 3D paving a road will work in three steps. First, using Lidar 3D scanning technology, the 3D paver will scan the road’s surface in order to compile detailed and accurate 3D measurements. Then, based on these 3D measurements, a computer modelling program will generate a 3D asphalt layer that will fit, like a puzzle piece, onto the road’s deformations. Finally, the 3D asphalt paver, utilizing a multi-segmented variable screed (which allows for road engineers to apply more or less asphalt where needed), will be able to create the 3D asphalt mat layer and apply it to the road in question, resulting in a high level of compaction.
The benefits of this new potential method of paving roads are numerous. As Professor John Harvey of the UC Davis Pavement Research says of the 3D asphalt paver, “By delivering asphalt in this manner, compaction and smoothness levels will be maximized increasing the lifespan of the road.” A consequence of this, of course, is the minimization of the milling of roads, the process wherein part of the road’s surface is removed in order to be repaved. John Smith explains that it is often this step in repaving that takes the longest and causes the most road delays.
Not only that, however, there are also financial benefits, as with longer lasting roads less money would have to be put towards road works and road rehabilitation, not to mention how much people would save on their own vehicle maintenance without pothole damages. Notable as well, are the environmental benefits of the 3D asphalt paver, which, in eliminating extended roadwork and consequently decreasing traffic congestion caused by road work, would help to cut back on carbon emissions.
The Advanced Paving Technologies’ project seems promising as they have already been publicly endorsed by the University of Washington, the UC Davis Pavement Research Center, The Transtec Group, and Century Construction. They also currently have patents for their work in both the United States and Europe.
With their kickstarter campaign launching on October 15th, we can hope that Advanced Paving Technologies’ 3D asphalt paving project will come to fruition, and that someday in the near future we will be able to benefit from 3D printed roads and perhaps even less traffic!