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Aesthetics to spur 3D printing in UAE construction

The next 12 to 24 months could see additive manufacturing gain traction in the UAE's design and architecture sectors, an expert told ConstructionWeekOnline

Aesthetics will drive the early growth of 3D printing in the UAE's construction sector [ITP Images].
Aesthetics will drive the early growth of 3D printing in the UAE's construction sector [ITP Images].

Aesthetic and architectural elements will offer growth prospects for 3D printing in the UAE's construction sector, an expert told ConstructionWeekOnline.

Fahmi Al-Shawwa, chief executive officer of Immensa Technology Labs, said this trend would be visible in the country over the next 12 to 24 months. 

He continued: "I think we will see a lot more acceptance and resources being put into additive manufacturing and construction. 

"Initially, I see [additive manufacturing being applied] more for aesthetics, surfaces, and creating the architectural elements of projects.

READ: UAE's first 3D printing factory opens

"Over the next two to two-and-a-half years, we may see [additive manufacturing] being added to a project's volume, interiors, or structural parts on a greater level," Al-Shawwa told ConstructionWeekOnline

Additive manufacturing refers to the process that uses 3D design data to develop a layered component.

READ: 25% buildings to be 3D printed in Dubai by 2030

Immensa, known for its additive manufacturing capabilities, recently unveiled the UAE's first 3D printing factory. 

The privately-held company was launched in 2016, with the aim to further homegrown research on 3D printing. 

Market interest in combining 3D printing and construction is high in the UAE, Immensa's chief said. 

VIDEO: Can skyscrapers use this 3D printed glass?

"We had a lot of requests to [enter] the construction, architecture, and interiors sectors, so we started researching how we could integrate additive manufacturing with traditional manufacturing or contracting," Al-Shawwa explained. 

The company has completed "some projects in the interiors sector", and some others that entailed the development of customised fittings.

Furthermore, Al-Shawwa said, Dubai is a key market for 3D printing and additive manufacturing to grow, thanks to the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy 2030. 

READ: Autodesk's $100m fund to support Dubai 3D printing plans

"We're aren't just importing the [additive manufacturing and 3D] technology," Al-Shawwa pointed out.

"Because we can create the technology, we're looking at at working with contracting companies to develop their own 3D printers for concrete, leading to a more homegrown innovation in the sector."  

Dubai 3D Printing Strategy, launched in April 2016, will support the emirate's drive to 3D print 25% of its buildings by 2030

The initiative was unveiled by the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.  

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Construction Week - Issue 751
Oct 13, 2019