Dubai moves closer to the centre of the 3D printing world

Dubai moves closer to the centre of the 3D printing world
Dubai's 3D Printing Strategy is driving the technology to new heights in the UAE.
Published: 18 February 2019 - 8:38 a.m.
By: Nissar Ahmed

3D printing has slowly but surely evolved from being a science fiction to a scientific fact.

Its global market is expected to reach approximately $120 billion by 2020, driven by research and product development activities and the increasing demand for design creativity. Dubai 3D printing is already so many steps ahead with statistics showing that by the year 2025, it will be a $300 billion market. The city-state has two primary goals - to reign supreme in sustainability and 3D printing. It has already laid out an impressive plan to do so in the name of the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy which has been discussed in depth below.

What is 3D Printing?

Before going into the details of Dubai 3D printing strategy, it's worth taking a closer look at what precisely 3D printing entails. 3D printing is a technology that started with the invention of the 3D printer. It involves creating physical objects by depositing materials in layers based on the digital model. Initially, it was a complicated and rather expensive technology, but over time 3D printing has now become a staple item in industrial practice. This technology has a wide variety of applications-from surgical implants to car spare parts and lightweight structures for aerospace projects.

Dubai 3D Printing Strategy

Dubai 3D printing strategy was launched by H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashad Maktoum in 2016. It aims to exploit technology to benefit humanity and make the UAE and Dubai the 3D printing center of the world by 2030. The focus of the initiative is to have Dubai 3D printing technologies integrated with the way of life. Key areas targeted by the Dubai 3D printing strategy are construction, medical and consumer products.

Dubai 3D Printing and Construction

The adoption of 3D printing by the construction sector has been hitting the headlines. The construction industry has for a long time been known as very conservative, slow to innovate and unsuccessful at improving productivity. However, companies are now exploiting digital fabrication technologies like tile-laying robots, automated cutting and prefabrication, and lastly the icing on the cake, 3D printing.

The most significant progress of Dubai 3D printing strategy is in the construction sector. In May the first fully 3D printed office building in the world was opened to the amazement of the rest of the world. A 3D concrete printer created this structure named the "Office of the Future" with a robotic arm 6 meters high and 12 meters wide. What would have probably taken years to build only took a mere 17 days to 3D print and 2 days to install. The people involved in the project included 1 technician to monitor the 3D printer, 7 people to fit the building on site, and a group of 10 specialists to take care of the mechanical and electrical engineering. This cut the labour costs by more than 50% making the project a living proof of the benefits 3D printing could offer. The ‘Office of the Future' project is just the tip of the iceberg as the city's end goal is to have at least 25% of the buildings 3D printed by 2030. Plans to have the first to have the world's first Dubai 3D printed skyscraper built by 2020 are already underway.

According to Dubai's Assistant Director-General for Engineering and Planning and a member of the committee for implementing Dubai 3D printing in the construction sector, research is now being done into the best practices in the field to ensure an effective transition. Also, a framework of rules and regulations to govern the construction of Dubai 3D printed buildings.

In conjunction with regulations for 3D printing, Dubai has introduced a program known as "Al Safat". It is a rating system for green building technology that ranks structures according to how well their standards of sustainability are. A new Dubai 3D printed building can either be platinum, gold, silver, or bronze-with bronze as the minimum requirement. This is in line with the city's ambition to be the greenest city in the world by 2050.

Benefits of Dubai 3D Printing Strategy

Dubai 3D printing will offer some significant benefits especially in the area of construction;

Lowering costs and time: It is estimated that Dubai 3D printing technology will cut construction costs by between 50% and 70%.

Minimizing pollution of the environment

Decrease injuries and fatalities on construction sites

Reducing workforce requirements in constructions projects: this means that labor can successfully be directed towards other projects

Reduce waste produced in construction by up to 60%

They say dream big. Dubai has gone a mile further and started actualizing its 3D printing dreams. The rest of the world has no choice but to watch as it climbs the charts to become the 3D printing centre of the world.

Nissar Ahmed is a Mechanical Engineer with over 10 yrs. of experience in automotive OEMs & design consulting firms. He is responsible for initiating & establishing metal AM domain at IMMENSA.

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