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“World’s Largest On-site 3D Printed Building” Completed in Saudi Arabia

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If there were any doubters about the viability of additive construction (AC), their doubt has likely shaken by now. Not only has the sheer number of AC firms that have taken root demonstrated the emergence of a cottage industry, but the projects themselves are also becoming more complex. This is showcased by the latest structure made using COBOD’s concrete 3D printing technology, “the tallest on-site 3D printed building in the world.”

Located in the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Riyadh, the three-story villa measures 9.9 m tall and 330 m2 in area. It was erected by the largest property developer in the nation over the course of 26 days, meeting all building codes. Thanks to the use of D.fab, from CEMEX and COBOD, it was possible to 3D print the structure using 99 percent local materials and only one percent from a centralized location. While the ability to deposit concrete only where necessary can be a resource saver, the ability to rely on locally sourced aggregates cuts down on shipping emissions and costs significantly.

Features include nine solar panels to power the villa’s heating and lighting and a series of IoT/smart tools for doors, locks, air conditioning, and more. Heat-reflecting “nano-technology” was used to coat the exterior of the structure, rendering it up to 40 percent more heat-resistant than traditional buildings. COBOD also claims that “the exterior of the house is four times stronger that any regular-built one.”

The villa is meant to be the first in a new product line offered by Dar Al Arkan in which buildings can be quickly and easily customized to the tastes of its customers. Wael al Hagan, 3D construction printing project manager from Dar Al Arkan, said, “Our efforts are focused on developing the kingdom’s real estate sector by integrating the latest trends and technologies, drawn from global best practices to enhance our industry locally and deliver on the objectives of vision 2030. The introduction of 3D construction printing enables us to focus on greater flexibility of design, strengthen productivity and achieve higher cost efficiency.”

Fahad al Nasar Head of Innovation, The Ministry of Housing in Saudi Arabia, said of the project, “In Saudi, we are rapidly developing in the construction sector through our Building Technology Initiative and implementing new technologies to enable 70% of the Saudi population to own their homes by 2030. Our strategy is to revolutionize the way people think about home through smart futuristic methods.”

As Saudi Arabia shifts from a fossil fuel-based economy to tech, like the neighboring United Arab Emirates, through its Vision 2030 strategy, AC is meant to be a part of this economic and infrastructural overhaul. As noted in a previous article on Dar Al Arkan’s foray into AC, Macro Analyst Matthew Kremenetsky highlighted a $10 billion called the Global Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, which will surely feature 3D printing.

More than that, we’ve already seen some of the country’s largest businesses adopting AM. This includes Saudi Aramco, which tapped 3D Systems for a new 3D printing center, and Al Seer, which has used “the world’s largest polymer 3D printer” to additively produce a drone watercraft. Advanced manufacturing is obviously going to be key to cultivating an economy that isn’t entirely based on fossil fuels, so we’re currently witnessing the birth of a new era for the middle eastern kingdom.

All images courtesy of COBOD.

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