3D Printed Skyscraper: The Dream May Soon Be a Reality

In one of the earlier posts of Horizon, we had discussed how 3D printing is being used to develop scale models of projects, across the world and in India. You can read more about the article here: http://horizonforum.in/3d-printing-technology-in-construction. The same article had highlighted that 3D printing is now being seriously considered for other applications such as development of complete buildings and structures. Requiring minimal labour for construction, 3D printing for executing building projects could be particular attractive in countries where labour costs are high. The technology also has additional advantages like speed, ability to incorporate intricate designs with ease and minimal waste of building materials.

Recently, a startup called Cazza Construction Technologies (Cazza) announced the development of a 3D printed skyscraper in Dubai (http://www.constructionweekonline.com/article-43436-cazza-to-build-worlds-first-3d-printed-skyscraper/). Before this announcement, Cazza had already offered its 3D printing services for low-rise construction in Dubai (http://www.thenational.ae/business/property/dubai-company-ready-to-3d-print-your-house-says-19-year-old-founder). Cazza has indicated that it is working with the Government of Dubai to incorporate 3D printing as a must-have technology in all buildings of the future. The Dubai government is the first one in the world to officially announce a ‘Dubai 3D Printing Strategy’. In this strategy, it has been envisioned that 25% of all buildings in the emirate will have components manufactured through 3D printing technology by 2030.

For low rise structures, Cazza designs the 3D structure on a software. Subsequently, mobile 3D printing robots can execute the project in a few days with just a few workers.

However, 3D printing of skyscrapers throws up many challenges. The printers need to operate over a larger area as well as height. They need to be precise in printing even in challenging conditions with high wind. In this regard, Cazza has said that it will be using a new technique called ‘Crane Painting’. Current technology can 3D-print all critical members including reinforcement steel rebars. However, it has been clarified that all components of the proposed building may not be 3D printed, due to various operational challenges. Interestingly, Cazza plans to use cranes that are already available in the market, cutting costs of operationalizing the technology.

It will be interesting to see how this technology develops and whether it can pose a serious challenge to traditional methods of construction in the near future. If it does develop soon, it will probably make its first inroads in locations where labour costs are high and where time is of the essence. 3D printing could also be very useful in applications considered too dangerous for humans.

For more details about Cazza, visit https://cazza.co/.


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