There has been a flurry of activity recently from the Dubai and UAE governments with regards to 3D Printing, especially in the construction sector. The world’s first 3D Printed office has been erected and is now fully functional and inhabited by the Dubai Future Foundation. Naturally being in the 3D Printing industry and having our headquarters here in Dubai we often get asked about the potential and direction of this ‘3D Printing construction’, so here is my two cents.
The push is real. Being on the ground here in Dubai and having met a lot of Government and semi-government entities one thing is very clear, this is really happening and is being backed very heavily. On July 13th 2016 Dubai Municipality announced the formation of a 3D Printing Construction code to be released shortly. This makes the UAE the first government to create any formal building code specifically geared towards 3D printing. It is not only Dubai Municipality either, it is evident from our experiences and enquiries alone that all government entities are looking for ways to improve their departments and eventually the citizens of the UAE, by adopting 3D printing technology.
Industries are going to have to adapt. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed set a goal of 25% of all buildings to be constructed by 2030. This alone means a huge market share in the construction industry will be taken by companies using the technology. Naturally, this dictates that organisations are going to have to adapt their current business models to incorporate 3D printing or risk losing out market share to those who do, or new players.
Brand new players will emerge. This breakthrough in 3D printing undoubtedly leaves room for new companies in the sector to emerge who do business in a game changing way. As with all tech breakthroughs, such as the internet and even the telephone, it is new companies that thrust to the forefront, a la google and Facebook as opposed to old companies adopting or pivoting. The race is on for this new industry and so far few have staked their claim at the top. I can see a scenario where a new tech based construction company uses algorithms and building AI more than the traditional labour intensive model of today.
Lines are going to get blurred. The introduction of 3D printing into a sector that has largely remained the same for hundreds of years, will ruffle a few feathers and create a certain amount of confusion. Architects, engineers and contractors that all employ a 3D Printing department and the equipment to design and essentially erect the building become less defined. One would hope this becomes a merging and collaboration of information and knowledge, however a competition to the top between all these players is a more likely scenario.
The tech advancements will dictate a lot. We users, are still at the mercy of the technology. Although each month that goes by seems to bring a new improvement, we are still not at a stage where it is commercially viable for many projects. All predictions and forecasts of numbers and patterns are on the basis that the technology will improve at a rapid rate, whilst becoming dramatically cheaper at the same time. History dictates this will happen, however how soon and to what extent is anyone’s guess.
Most innovative USE will prevail. There are currently two main schools of thought when it comes to the direction the technology will be used. One uses a supply chain similar to ‘pre-fab’ housing whereby a building is printed in sections off site at a warehouse or factory and then moved to site and assembled. The second method sees the building site essentially being replaced by a 3D printer rig and the building gets built layer by layer on site.
Both have their merits and drawbacks, which will prevail is only a matter of time and in my opinion some sort of hybrid. My point however, as with all 3D printing, it is not the best machine or software that often prevails, it is the people behind the designs and operating the machines. The most innovative uses of 3D printers is always what eventually dictates success. I see the first major player in the industry as the one who cracks the use of technology and applies it in a real world situation to benefit in a multitude of areas.
For any more information or questions on 3D printing please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or http://generation3d.ae/contact/
Published by : Dominic Wright, Business Development Director