The World’s First 3D-Printed Office Building

The world's first 3D-printed office building has opened in Dubai. The one-story, arc-shaped building encompasses 2,700 square feet, and cost $140,000 to build – all in just 17 days. The building has fully functional offices with all the conveniences of a conventionally built structure: water, electricity, water and up-to-date telecommunications. It’s also cost-efficiently climate-controlled to reduce energy costs. Finished in May, the new office building is already staffed and running.

3D-printers are widely used in industry for making three-dimensional objects out of plastic. Last year China built the first 3D apartment building, but this is the first time that the technology has been used for an office building. How did they do it? With a giant 3D printer, of course. The 20-foot tall,120-foot long, 40-foot wide printer responsible for the project was itself the size of a two-story building. It featured a robotic arm that implements printing, extruding the material and building layer upon layer. Only one operator was required to oversee its functioning. Constructed by Dubai Future Foundation, the building material was a specially developed mix of concrete, reinforced plastic and glass-fiber reinforced gypsum. Preliminary testing of the materials and process was done in Britain and China. An 18-person construction crew of installers, electricians and mechanical engineers did the finishing construction work for a mere $140,000. That’s roughly half the price of a comparable, conventionally built structure.

Next year, the building is slated to serve as Dubai’s Museum of the Future, showcasing the UAE’s commitment to innovation and promoting the Emirates as world leader in 3D printing. By the year 2030, Dubai hopes to build 25% of the emirate’s buildings using 3D printing, cutting costs and time by anywhere from 50-75%. No doubt, we will be seeing growing numbers of 3D printed structures pop up around the globe.