“In 2025, based on Dubai Municipality’s regulations, every new building in Dubai will be 25% 3D printed,” the Foundation explains. “This move will start from 2019, starting at 2% with a gradual increase to the strategic goal.” The initiative will focus on the construction industry’s printing of “lighting products, bases, and foundations, construction joints, facilities, and parks, buildings for humanitarian causes, and mobile homes.”
The United Arab Emirates has a serious problem with the exploitation of migrant labor in its construction industry, with watchdog groups describing widespread human rights abuses and practical slavery as the norm in the industry. So the idea of using printers to replace human labor done under deplorable conditions at the risk of life and limb isn’t necessarily a bad one. 3D printing’s champions argue that it could also be more sustainable and more efficient than traditional construction, with a smaller carbon footprint (though some dispute that, too).
The question is whether this is doable at all. While 3D printing is gaining ubiquity in real-life situations, it’s still uncertain how far we are from the technology being regularly used in the mass production of small buildings like homes, let alone skyscrapers. While walls, ceilings, and even structural parts can now be manufactured with industrial printers, these are still far from that 70% labor reduction and the 80% building cost cuts Dubai is aiming for.
Companies like New Story are making 3D printing more accessible, with a house that can be printed in a day for about $4,000. Meanwhile, Chinese construction company Winsun is pushing the use of large-scale 3D printers rapidly, making headlines in 2014 for 3D printing 10 complete houses in a day. The company also 3D printed an office building for the Dubai Future Foundation, and it seems to be collaborating with the organization in advancing toward its 2025 goal.
thumbnail courtesy of fastcompany.com