3D-printing makes its way to Dubai’s housing sector
The use of 3D-printing technology in a residential development in Dubai follows a number of milestones, including the construction of the world’s first 3D-printed office building within the Emirates Towers complex and the first 3D-printed laboratory building at the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park – all within the framework of the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy, which aims to make the emirate a global hub of 3D-printing technology by 2030.
For the 3D-printed housing project, the initial design will serve as a model home, according to developer Emaar, and will “serve as a reference point for investors to further understand the concept and appreciate the value add that advanced technology brings to the real estate sector.” Emaar did not reveal the winning bidder for the project or when it will be completed, but said the contract was awarded following a global competition among leading 3D-printing technology providers. A local contractor will construct the project, “with the goal of building in-country competencies in 3D printing for the property sector”.
The government also has high hopes for the technology. Commenting on the completion of the world’s first 3D-printed office in Dubai in 2016, Mohammad Al Gergawi, the UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, had described the feat as “just the beginning”. Just three years later, the technology is starting to move into mainstream housing development with one of the UAE’s largest developers announcing its pilot project.
“Our plans to embrace 3D printing of homes is an integral part of our digital-first and customer-first strategy,” said Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties.
Al Gergawi had estimated 3D printing to cut real estate labour costs by 50-80 per cent and construction time by 50-70 per cent. Developers are generally still trying to figure out an efficient way to transition towards 3D printing from conventional construction methods, but the financial savings are strong-enough incentives for top industry players to start the move.
“Through this, we are not only positioning ourselves as an early adopter of advanced technology but also creating long-term value for our customers as 3D printing brings numerous advantages such as reduced cost of construction, more efficient use of materials and higher levels of sustainability,” said Alabbar. “With 3D printing technology, to be implemented locally using international expertise, we are also supporting the vision of the leadership to build ‘smart and sustainable cities’ that are tech-driven and meet the aspirations of the new generation of customers. It will also help accelerate the innovation ecosystem in Dubai, inspiring start-ups to contribute towards advanced construction technology.”
Earlier this year, the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park also announced plans to build a 3D-printed house by the third quarter.