Advances in design and materials really is the sexy end of design. Articles are written about the clever use of new materials in innovative ways. So there should be, for what we may have perceptibly lost in the old skills, science, and leaps in computer aided design have filled with apparent ease. The shapes being used today were once thought impossible. Materials are stronger and lighter than ever before. Building has become more efficient more accurate and faster.
In all of this it isn’t just the sheet materials that have changed. Often overlooked is how fastenings have changed. Recently on site I was using Multi-Fix Screws by TIMco. These screws make raw-plugs redundant when fastening into masonry and boy do they work. They remove the need for the endless offering up of what you are attaching and the pain that raw plugs slipping out over time can give. But just as important is the time on site they save, with the knock on effect of saving the clients wallet.
Screws in general have become the norm due to the improvement of cordless tool technology, which has led to stronger fastening of materials to each other and easier later repairs. Next time you get a chance look at the thread of a modern professional grade wood screw and see how it has changed in recent years. They split the wood less, don’t require pre-drilling or countersinking, the thread takes care of that. That is as an important technical advance as any. As I said not the sexy end of design, but arguably one of the most important.