Dubai plans to 3D print 25% of buildings by 2030

The new strategy will cut costs and reduce construction times, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed said



Dubai will build a quarter of its structures using 3D printing technology under a new initiative revealed on Wednesday to make the emirate a hub for the technology.

UAE Vice President and and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said the emirate’s ‘3D printing strategy’ was part of plans to achieve global leadership in future innovations.

“The UAE is presenting to the world today the first integrated and comprehensive strategy to exploit 3D technology to serve humanity. We have also framed practical plans and precise goals to turn the strategy into reality, the reality that will contribute to the progress and prosperity of the world and help preserve our human heritage,” he said.

“Our key goal is to ensure that 25 per cent of buildings in Dubai are based on 3D printing technology by 2030, and we will raise this percentage with the development of global technology as well as growth of market demand.”

Sheikh Mohammed added that the technology would create economic value and benefits worth billions of dollars. Reductions in construction times to 10 per cent of today’s levels and less reliance on unskilled labour would cut costs and reduce the environmental impact, he said.

The Dubai ruler called for government agencies, private sector companies, universities and research centres to establish a universal model for the technology in the UAE.

Dubai’s 3D printing strategy

The emirate’s 3D printing strategy will cover construction, medical products and consumer products with key focus areas in each sector.

In the building sector, 3D printing of lights, bases, foundations, joints, facilities, parks, homes, galleries and stores is expected to see the value of the sector reach Dhs 3bn in Dubai by 2025, according to state news agency WAM. Use of 3D printing in the construction sector is expected to increase by 2 per cent from 2019 and more in the coming years depending on the development of technology.

For medical products, 3D printed teeth, bones, organs, devices and hearing aids are projected to see the sector reach Dhs 1.7bn in value in Dubai by 2025, while consumer products like household items, jewellery, games and fast food could see the sector reach Dhs 2.8bn.

The 3D printing strategy consists of five main pillars: infrastructure, legislative structure, funding, talent and market demand.

The infrastructure pillar will focus on providing the right infrastructure and support for research and development to attract the world’s largest companies in the field.

On the legislative side, it will focus on developing a regulatory framework for the technology and specifications for materials allowed during the printing process.

For talent, the emirate will channel its efforts into building local expertise in research, design and innovation and encourage the best minds in the field to come to Dubai.

In terms of funding, the emirate will look for financing alternatives and investment support to develop the technology and expand its scope and application. While under the market demand pillar it will promote the use of the technology, promote competitive pricing and maintain quality standards.

The 3D printing strategy forms part of the Future Cities Programme to make Dubai a regional leader.

The initiative will be supported by various government departments and companies and will begin with a study of the sector to help establish registration, qualification, licensing and implementation processes.

This will be followed by a qualification phase to develop codes for materials, systems, specifications and maintenance along with measures to educate engineers and companies and the establishment of labs for testing.

Following this, an implementation phase will see Dubai Holding launch a pilot project designed to inspire developers to work on other prototypes, while the private sector will be encouraged to adopt 3D printing methods.

Finally in the development phase, assessment and performance indicators will be used to build the sector, draft work agreements and facilitate 3D printing.

Dubai Health Authority will facilitate the strategy in the medical products sector and Dubai Holding will build a lab to enhance 3D printing innovation and design, with workshops and training courses.

Dubai Holding will also establish a special fund for 3D printing and a global forum in the emirate for 3D printing technologies is also planned.

Dubai previously unveiled plans to construct the world’s first 3D printed building as an initiative of its Museum of the Future.

The office will be approximately 2,000 square feet in size and printed lay-by-layer using a 20-foot tall 3D printer assembled on site in Dubai in a few weeks.

The 3D printing market is expected to be worth $120bn by 2020 and about $300bn by 2025, WAM reported.

Current projections suggest the technology will cut construction costs by 50 to 70 per cent and labour costs by 50 to 80 per cent, while reducing waste in construction by 60 per cent.