HP’s SitePrint robot zooms into the future

The remote-controlled autonomous device that prints building layouts directly onto the floor is poised to help modernize the commercial construction industry.

By Hillary Richard — October 4, 2022

The newest device in construction isn’t a gargantuan piece of heavy machinery. Instead, it’s a neat little yellow robot that could be your Roomba’s more robust cousin. This three-wheeled portable robot prints complex construction site layouts in a fraction of the time it would take a team of humans.

Traditionally, construction layouts require the use of survey equipment and measurement tools to physically transfer a blueprint’s specifications onto the construction site. This critical step can take a team of two or three people several weeks, regardless of their experience level. There’s little room for error, since tearing down a partial build due to a measuring mistake is expensive and time-consuming. HP SitePrint incorporates HP’s printing expertise with digital mapping and robotics.


The "brain" (left) controls the HP SitePrint (right) on the construction floor at Penn Station in New York City.

“HP SitePrint prints complex construction site layouts with pinpoint accuracy, in a fraction of the time it takes manually,” says Daniel Martinez, vice president and general manager of HP’s Large Format Printing business.

Developed in 2017, when a team from the Large Format Print business won an internal innovation contest, it was then built as a full product concept in-house, primarily at HP’s Barcelona center. 


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The autonomous device requires a set of cloud-based software tools and just one human operator, who can control it via a touchscreen tablet. It can print solid or dotted lines, arcs, and points with accuracy and can add text labels for clarity. Specialized inks are tailored to different surfaces (porous and nonporous) and environmental conditions, including long-term and short-term inks that can last days or weeks depending on the construction timeframe. 

HP SitePrint: See it in action

Importantly, the robot is equipped with obstacle avoidance and cliff sensors to autonomously avoid unknown elements — not uncommon at a construction site. It can even print accurately when tilting or running over uneven concrete.

“In construction there are constant transitions from the digital world (where the building model is created and where it is updated with inputs from the field) and the physical world where projects are built,” Martinez explains. “In many cases, these transitions are manual and inefficient, like in the case of layout, where the digital model is transferred into the concrete slab via a chalk line.” 

Weeks of layout can now be done in days. HP estimates that the SitePrint can increase productivity by up to 10 times with precise, accurate implementation. Incorporating this kind of time-saving and reliable technology revolutionizes the workflow for all of the professions involved in building construction layout, like general contractors, subcontractors, interiors, concrete, mechanical and plumbing specialists, construction management firms, and surveying companies.

“HP’s goal is to automate the transition between the digital and the physical worlds to boost productivity and unlock new possibilities.”

— Daniel Martinez, VP & GM, Large Format Printing, HP

Construction and development firm Skanska discovered the many ways HP SitePrint could improve workflow and create efficiencies while participating in a pilot program. The company used HP SitePrint while transforming the landmark 1911 James A. Farley Post Office building into the mixed-use, 225,000-square-foot Moynihan Train Hall, an extension of Penn Station — one of New York City’s main transit hubs. The renovation included 1.4 million square feet of retail and office space as well as transit. 

“Industry wide, we’re all experiencing customer schedule demands and labor shortages,” says Albert Zulps, director of Emerging Technology at Skanska USA Building. “Innovation and technology like SitePrint can help address some of those challenges in an efficient way. Multiple trades that traditionally work separately can now work together, reducing layout time.”

While labor productivity in manufacturing has grown an average 3.6% each year for the last two decades, the construction sector reported just a 1% increase in that time period. Layout experts are critical components when it comes to planning and strategy, but many end up dedicating most of their time to manual execution. The shortage of skilled workers in this field creates costly delays.

“HP’s goal is to automate the transition between the digital and the physical worlds to boost productivity and unlock new possibilities,” Martinez says. “HP SitePrint is the first installment of this vision.”

The pilot program sent HP SitePrint to US customers in September, with a global launch planned for next year.


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