We spoke to CCG’s UAE
Area Manager, Hazem Haddad about what Dubai’s new 3D-printing construction
target might mean for designers and architects.
3D printing is a technology that allows 3D objects to be
printed from a digital design by building up layers of material. In recent
years, this technology has become increasingly accessible and it is now gaining
popularity in the construction industry.
Large 3D printers that can use concrete type materials can
be used in construction to create structural components and entire buildings. Components
can be printed and then shipped to the building site to be constructed and
reinforced, or the printer can be used on site to print on demand. This
provides opportunity to create large scale projects quickly and at a lower cost
than regular construction with less wasted materials.
A range of building materials can be used such as a special
stronger type of concrete, dry powder cement that is printed in layers and then
sprayed with water to solidify, or scaffolding can be printed that is later
filled to create walls, beams and more. Bio-renewable materials are currently
being tested for use in construction, too.
We have recently seen the
world’s first 3D printed school open in Malawi, which took only 18 hours to
print. In countries like Malawi, this quick speed of construction can be
especially effective in addressing infrastructure needs.
In Dubai, UAE, a
decree has been issued to regulate the use of 3D printing in the construction
sector. This will support the national target for 25%
of all new buildings to be constructed using 3D printing technology by 2030,
with the intention for Dubai to become a global leader for 3D printing
The UAE has also unveiled the world’s
largest 3D printed building, at 9.5m tall with an area of 640m2.
It was printed using an on-site machine that mixed materials together before
arranging into thin layers that solidified almost immediately into concrete,
while the foundation used both conventional and 3D printing methods. Officials
said that the building has passed all safety checks, provides the same
amenities and is as durable as conventional buildings.
Buildings created using this technology have a lower
cost, quicker construction and reduced environmental footprint compared to buildings
constructed using traditional methods, which may be enough of an explanation
for why the UAE is eager to increase its use of this technology, especially
being a country with such a booming construction industry.
CCG’s UAE Area
Manager, Hazem Haddad, believes there is great potential for the 3D printing
industry to grow.
The technology will not just be used to print construction
materials, but also equipment and forms or molds that will be used to produce
other construction materials.
“The same way that BIM changed how architects create new
schemes, 3D printing will influence designers’ imaginations regarding design
and construct methodology. Although some may consider the quicker speed of
construction to be the main advantage, in the minds of most architects, the key
focus should still remain as what this technology will allow for creativity.”
How will design firms
align their strategies with the UAE’s plan in regards to construction
Hazem’s expectation is that this technology will allow for
fast and easy reallocation of architectural elements in the future, just like
building blocks, where the spaces are able to easily be manipulated and
customized to suit the end user’s lifestyle.
“We may see new practices of construction appear, where one
block is built at a time of a larger construction site as part of an ongoing
process to achieve adaptable outcomes with much higher involvement from end
users. This would mean that users will not have to read construction drawings,
but instead actively participate during the project’s construction. A
hard-hitting approach contractually, but this could be the reality soon. Smart
designers will convert their ideas and sketches into hard models that will help
to achieve better client visualization, selection, crisp idea conception as
well as other benefits.”
Are we going to see
this trend for 3D printed buildings spreading further across the MENA region?
“Most probably, yes – particularly in commercial
construction and in low to medium income communities.”
There are areas within the MENA region that Hazem sees as
showing high potential to benefit from the speed of construction that 3D
printing technology would offer, due to the economic and political issues of
some communities. However, he believes that the mindset of local residents may
prevent this technology being used yet in higher-end construction projects, at
least for a few more years to ensure that higher quality and more advanced
printing equipment and materials will be used.
Will Dubai’s plan
create limitations or constraints for designers in terms of creativity and
using different materials and structures?
Perhaps within the first few years this may be the case,
until further development is achieved. However eventually, Hazem thinks that
the technology should enhance creativity instead of limiting it, as a lot of
constructability issues that designers currently face will be resolved by then.
“The opportunities brought about by 3D printing shall enrich
how architects think and can help them to produce more accurate and complex
Are we likely to see
CCG’s architects and designers working with 3D printing technology in the near
Yes, at CCG, our goal
is to ensure the latest and most beneficial technologies are being utilized at optimal