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| Aug 25, 2021

Prefab Interior Wall Assemblies

Interior wall assemblies are a staple across building types, whether new construction or renovationWhile the precise placement and configuration of each component may vary between individual buildings, the traditional assembly system currently in use has remained unchanged for over thirty years – steel framing, sheetrock, and specified MEP components.  

The Challenges 

Current construction practices require interior wall assembly entirely on-site and with multiple overlapping trades. This process leans heavily on coordination of scheduling that may often cause construction delays and higher costs.  

A number of alternative products on the market have tried unsuccessfully to gain market share of a next-generation wall assembly. Their lackluster reception in the industry can be attributed to two primary factors: they have stepped too far away from traditional materials as to be considered a viable alternative, and perhaps most importantly, they have not been cost-competitive.  

Key Goals 

This project aims to develop a cost-competitive, high-quality solution that considers all aspects of interior wall assemblies, addressing both the materials and the process employed.  We assert that consolidating trades, moving all or parts of the work off-site, and reimagining the traditional materials found in framing and finish material will deliver the desired product faster, more efficiently, and at lower costs. In relation to alternative materials, we believe that by challenging the use of drywall in interior wall assemblies, HITT will make sustainability strides and divert this waste from landfills.  

Key Findings 

After conducting extensive market research, HITT R&D has discovered several potential suppliers that offer new interior wall assembly components or systems. Some of this incorporates new framing approaches such as prefabricated steel studs and panelized mass timber, or new finish material such as demountable cladding, bio-based boards, and recycled panels. To date, this research has resulted in disparate components rather than an integrated solution that can achieve a quicker, safer, less costly wall assembly while moving the work off-site. Many suppliers offer a prefabricated product that still requires on-site labor, longer than anticipated assembly times, or other drawbacks that we are trying to anticipate and address by examining emergent prefabricated processes. 

Next Steps 

We are currently testing various framing methods and researching a drywall alternative for the finish material to achieve sustainability goals. Ultimately, we plan to develop or source an integrated assembly process that accomplishes 85% off-site prefabrication. 

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