The UAE marked itself as the global hub for developing 3D Printing technology in construction when it successfully built the world’s first 3D-printed office building in Dubai. But how soon will UAE residents be able to live in 3D-printed buildings?
“This is the first 3D-printed building in the world, and it’s not just a building, it has fully functional offices and staff,”UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Mohamed Al Gergawi
3D-printed buildings use the same concept as 3D-printed items, but the technology is different. The printing machines are much bigger and use a special mixture of cement, not plastic.
The one-story 250 square meters office, the Office of the Future, is located within the Emirates Towers, Dubai. It was built using a 3D-printer that is 6 meters high, 36 meters long and 12 meters wide. It was printed in just 17 days and took two days to install. Here’s the best part: it only cost 140,000$.
The cement used was designed and made in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States then tested for reliability in Britain and China.
This building technique is estimated to cut down building time by up to 70%, and labor costs by up to 80%.
The UAE’s vision is to have 25% of buildings in construction being 3D-printed by 2030.
The next step the UAE is taking towards this vision was to select CyBe Construction, a Dutch specialist in concrete 3D Printing, to start building a series of 3D-printed houses in Sharjah at the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park).
That would be part of the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park) initiative which aims to 3D print a series of buildings in the area with the goal of transforming the city of Sharjah into an architectural hub.
Another unique achievement in the 3D Printing field by Dubai, was the building of the world’s first ever 3D-printed building that was built completely on-site. Which means the 3D printer was taken to the site, then the whole thing was printed on spot, instead of parts of the building being printed somewhere else then transported.
This building is a laboratory, called the R&Drone Laboratory, based at the Solar Park as part of the Research and Development Centre. The Laboratory is now used for researching 3D Printing and drone technologies.
CyBe Construction, a Dutch company responsible for the engineering and 3D Concrete printing of the facility, transported the CyBe RC 3Dp to the location in Dubai. This device is a 3D printer that is able to move on caterpillar tracks to allow for the printing of large building components onsite.
Immensa, the region’s leading Additive Manufacturing (AM) company, which provides 3d printing in Dubai services for customers in a range of industries comment on the question: “How soon will UAE residents live in 3D-printed buildings?”
“There are a few obstacles that need to be overcome, of which one is the regulatory framework and building code. Although Dubai is a global leader in pushing 3D Printing in Construction, and there is an extremely active push by various Dubai authorities on incorporating 3D Printing in the UAE’s building regulation, the process takes time. There are many implications and hundreds of factors that need to be considered by the likes of Dubai Municipality.
The second obstacle is the actual technology. The amount of attention, resources, and funding that has gone into producing concrete 3D Printing is encouraging. The current generation of 3D Printers, whether based in Dubai or other places, illustrates the potential capabilities of the technology; however, the technology still needs significantly more work to achieve technical and financial viability.
The focus of those companies is directed more on material development than just the technology. The most prevailing obstacle in the adoption of concrete 3D Printing today is the material composition. As more construction companies start investigating concrete 3D Printing, the knowledge base expands, and collective experience increase.
Dubai has generated enough awareness to be regarded as one of the cities at the forefront of experimenting with 3D Printing in the construction industry. It will be an exciting few years for the construction industry in the UAE as we see more innovation and development coming out of Dubai. “