Future of affordable housing? It's home, 3D-printed home

Dubai is once again leading the way in rolling out 3D-printed infrastructure, and how

  
Dubai Municipality- 3D-printed building

Dubai Municipality- 3D-printed building

Gerard Aoun/Zawya
Did you realise that they're already printing double-storeyed buildings right here in Dubai? Yesterday, Dubai Municipality wowed the media when it showcased the world's largest 3D-printed structure in Warsan, a two-storeyed complex spread over a 640-sq m area. The coolest thing is that it doesn't look or feel much different than your conventional buildings, and you'd have to be a super-architect of sorts to figure out that it wasn't built by men wearing blue overalls and yellow hats.

It's surreal, really. And to think that such a flawless building was built at less than half the cost of a conventional structure and with half the manpower otherwise required makes it a no-brainer for future construction needs. It isn't a fad anymore, and even if it is, why wouldn't you jump on the bandwagon given the cost and time savings? Is it safe? Extremely. Just like in an inkjet printer layers and layers of ink are superimposed on paper to make a colourful picture come alive, a 3D printer uses layers of ingredients fed into it - in this case, a mix of concrete and glass and steel (recycled or otherwise) - to create the walls and cladding and façade or whatever. Dubai spent a year in building (or should that be printing?) the structure, but only because it wanted to be sure of its quality and safety. Now that it meets stringent quality standards, the same can be replicated in under three months.

Always an early adopter of new tech, Dubai is once again leading the way in rolling out 3D-printed infrastructure, and how. It's the world's largest 3D-printed building and Emaar Properties is already in advanced stages of delivering Dubai's first 3D-printed villa in the next phase of its Arabian Ranches development. In 2016, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the 'Dubai 3D Printing Strategy', to promote the status of the UAE and Dubai as a leading hub of 3D printing technology by the year 2030. The plan is to have a quarter of the emirate's buildings to be 3D-printed by the end of the next decade. Traditionally, Dubai has achieved whatever it is that it sets out to achieve and this time, it is no different. The printing is on the wall.

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