EC8 has developed technology to supply pre-cut drywall (plasterboard) to building sites, ready to be installed. With ten houses now built using the technology, it has halved the time it takes builders to install plasterboard, increasing efficiency and reducing build costs.

Founder, Chris Staal has created an end-to-end solution including digital measuring tools, detailed software and custom-built cutting machines.

The technology reduces the overall build time of a residential house by up to two days and decreases waste by up to 30 per cent. He has also developed a machine to recycle plasterboard cutoffs.

Builders can digitally measure wall dimensions as a 2D model via an easy-to-use app. The builder simply attaches the device to the wall and within two minutes will have a digital copy of the wall. Builders can send the order directly to the factory where it takes just two minutes to robotically pick and cut a sheet of plasterboard. The pre-cut plasterboard is delivered directly to building sites where it is ready to install. Each house averages a whopping three tonnes of plasterboard!

After four years of ideation, developing the technology and building the machinery, EC8 is currently at pilot stage.

Ten houses have been built in the Waikato using the technology with one builder recently completing their sixth house using pre-cut plasterboard. The technology works with most houses – from small transportable homes and spec homes through to architecturally designed houses.

“The technology is working and we’re in the market making revenue which is pretty cool. The numbers and the tech are working really well so we’re starting to think about how we can scale,” says EC8 founder, Chris Staal.

EC8’s next step is raising capital and finding a larger factory in order to grow the business. EC8’s Te Rapa based factory is 400 square metres but with its custom designed and built CNC machine taking up 200 square metres of factory space, order-picking robots and large plasterboard orders, factory space is at a premium.

“Our long-term goal is for partners to buy the technology and machinery so they can operate their own factory. Potential buyers will be able purchase the full setup including the digital measuring gear, software, machinery, recycling and cutting gear. We’re hoping to get a commercial unit going and market the business to commercially launch in mid-2024,” says Staal.

Four years in, Staal says that creating a tech startup is the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life.

“Getting the tech to work has been an unbelievable challenge and ten times hard and costlier than I expected it to be. For example, we’re up to prototype 20 or 30 for some of the digital measuring gear. To get the accuracy we need, there are lots of bits of software and hardware that have to seamlessly work together.

“We’ve had a really high accuracy rate with our technology and machinery. Of the first 700 sheets of plasterboard we had no rejections which is pretty phenomenal. Our latest install was near flawless.

“I’m really proud that we’ve launched and are now installing in houses.”

Staal has worked with Soda since 2020 when he placed third in a seed grant, winning a small amount of cash. Since then he has participated in Soda’s LIFT and BOOST programmes, receiving capital investment via BOOST.

EC8 has also received two project grants, the Arohia Grant and student grants through Callaghan Innovation.

“We’ve been really lucky with some of the Callaghan Innovation grants which have helped us out along the way. We wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without Callaghan’s support and I’m very grateful.

As for the future of EC8?

“I’m excited to make waves in the market and make a difference to builders. I’m pretty convinced that this technology will take over the market,” concludes Staal.

Find out more about EC8.