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Printing the Office of the Future

News International-French

8 Jul 2015

Thornton Tomasetti, which has long been at the forefront of innovative project delivery methods, is part of the team that is planning to build a fully functional building using 3D printing technology.

A 2,000-square-foot office building will be created using a 20-foot tall 3D printer. The building will be printed and assembled on site in Dubai, UAE. The project, which was announced at a press conference recently, is part of the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy. An initiative of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the strategy seeks to employ the latest technologies to improve the nation’s economy and the lives of its people.

The 3D building is the result of a partnership between Dubai and WinSun Global, along with Thornton Tomasetti, Gensler and Syska Hennessey Group. They began partnering with Dubai-based WinSun Global on the use of 3D printing for low-rise commercial and residential applications last year. Their work is being coordinated by Senior Principal and Middle East Region Leader Kyle Krall.

“Thornton Tomasetti is excited to be involved in advancing this innovative design and construction process,” Krall said. “We have made great strides, but this is only the beginning of what is possible. We can potentially combine 3D printing technology with both emerging materials and existing materials used in new ways, to take our industry in a fresh direction.”

In addition to the structure, all interior furniture, detailing, and structural components will be built using 3D printing technology, combining a mixture of Special Reinforced Concrete (SRC), Glass Fiber Reinforced Gypsum (GRG) and Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP). This will make the building the most advanced 3D printed structure of this scale ever built and put into actual use. Construction is expected to take just a few weeks. It is estimated that this method will reduce labor costs by 50 to 80 percent and construction waste by 30 to 60 percent.

The facility can house nine to 16 people. It will be used to bring together businesses, community members and experts through a mix of public events. It will feature an open floorplan, a small digital fabrication facility and 3D printing exhibition space.

“This project reflects the vision of our leadership here in Dubai,” Mohamed Al Gergawi, chairman of the UAE National Innovation Committee, said during the press conference. “The idea of 3D printing buildings was once a dream, but today it has become a reality,” he added. “This building will be a testimony to the efficiency and creativity of 3D printing technology, which we believe will play a major role in reshaping construction and design sectors. We aim to take advantage of this growth by becoming a global hub for innovation and 3D printing. This is the first step of many more to come.”

Photo: Courtesy UAE Innovation Committee

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