Dubai’s first 3D-printed villas will open in April. The project is part of the city’s 3D Printing Strategy which aims to recast Dubai as the world’s 3D printing hub by the year 2030. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched this unique global initiative to exploit technology for “the service of humanity”, as stated on the project website.
3D printing for buildings has been explored on many fronts. In 2015, the Israeli design team Tridom won honorable mention in NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge for their ‘Bubble Base’ building, a prototype for future human habitation on Mars. (Read more on that, here.)
The Dubai Strategy will have three primary focus areas. Medical applications will seek to develop 3D printed teeth, bones, artificial organs, medical and surgical devices, and hearing aids. Consumer applications will focus on household items, optics, fashion jewelry, children’s games and – inexplicably – fast food. The construction sector will concentrate on lighting products, bases and foundations, construction joints, facilities and parks, buildings for mobile homes and humanitarian causes. (Read more about innovation in refugee housing, here.)
Engineer Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of the Dubai Municipality, told the Emarat Al Youm newspaper that by 2030, 25% of the city’s new buildings will be printed in order to reduce construction costs and shorten delivery schedules. This will especially benefit the affordable housing sector where the combination of automation and new materials will increase efficiency and significantly lower costs.
“3D printing is a disruptive technology,” Sameer Lakhani, Managing Director of Global Capital Partners, told the Khaleej Times.
“Currently, the process is still more expensive than conventional building methods; moreover it is in its embryonic stages, being able to accommodate only rudimentary designs. However, within a 10 to 15-year time frame, it appears likely that this form of ‘printing’ will start to replace existing methods of construction.”