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Tall Order: First 3-D-Printed Skyscraper Confirmed

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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Dubai-based and Silicon Valley-born construction firm Cazza Technologies has announced plans to build the world’s first 3-D-printed skyscraper.

CEO Chris Kelsey said in an interview that, when the company first had the thought of 3-D printing it was mostly thinking of houses and low-rise buildings, which has been done more and more over the past few years. However, he said, the company kept getting inquiries from developers about taller structures. So, it started to adapt.

“Through our technologies, we will be able to build architecturally complex buildings at never-before seen speeds. It is all about economies of scale where the initial high technology costs will reduce as we enter the mass-production phase," he said.

Reach for the Sky

Though there haven’t been specific details released as far as timeline or height of the building, the structure would have to reach 40 or 50 stories to be considered a “skyscraper.”

COO Fernando De Los Rios said that the printing will be able to use existing cranes, which means the team won’t have to build special machinery for this special project.

The crane printing process will include all major structural components required for tall buildings, including reinforcement with steel rebar, and whatever parts can’t be printed will be constructed through traditional methods.

The large robotic 3-D printers will use concrete and steel as the main materials for the structure.

Jonathan Juursema, CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

CEO Chris Kelsey said in an interview that, when they first had the thought of 3-D printing they were mostly thinking of houses and low-rise buildings.

“We are adding new features to make it adaptable to high wind speeds along with the use of our layer smoothing system that creates completely flat surfaces. You won’t know its 3-D printed,” De Los Rios said.

Dubai’s Mission

In December 2016, Cazza was chosen by the Dubai government to aid the country in 3-D printing. According to the “Dubai 3D Printing Strategy,” which was launched by UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, 25 percent of the buildings in the emirate will be based on 3-D printing technology by 2030.

Cazza’s 3-D printing concrete minitanks make it possible to build a three-story house in two days and Kelsey said that Dubai was fascinated with the capabilities of Cazza's machines.

"While the specifics of our technologies will only be revealed to close partners, the capabilities of our machines would enable a potential labour cost reduction of up to 90% while allowing construction companies to rapidly build houses and buildings," he said.

Dubai is also home to The Office of the Future, the world’s first fully functional 3-D-printed office building.

Other 3-D-printed Buildings

Though Cazza is set to be the first company to 3-D print a skyscraper, others have successfully completed other types of buildings including the aforementioned Dubai office building, the Urban Cabin in Amsterdam and a Suzhou-style Chinese villa in Binzhou City.

Construction company Winsun completed both the office space in Dubai and the Chinese villa.

The office, sizing up at 240-square-meters, was constructed in 2016 and reportedly reduced labor costs by 50-80 percent and reduced construction waste by 30-60 percent.

The Chinese homes were built with a large printer (492 feet long, 65 feet wide and 16 feet high) using concrete ink layer by layer—each layer between 0.6 cm and 3 cm in thickness.

The printer also was able to create hollow walls, which gave planners the freedom to add insulation or load-bearing materials into the walls.

While the Amsterdam Cabin isn’t as fully functioning as the Winsun products (that are complete with air conditioning), the tiny house is an effective tourist attraction constructed by DUS Architects. That group is also in the process of a three-year publicly accessible “Research and Design by Doing” project called 3-D Printed Canal House, also in Amsterdam.

“The building site is designed as a growing exhibition and open to the public,” according to the project’s website. “The project is initiated by DUS architects and shows that architecture can be catalyst for cross-sectoral innovation.”

That same streak of innovation seems to be what’s propelling the construction in Dubai, as Cazza’s Kelsey has claimed that the company is there to “revolutionize the construction industry.”

“We believe in and admire HH Sheikh’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s 10X vision and shall do everything we can to bring further world-changing innovation. We came here to change the world, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Kelsey.

   

Tagged categories: 3D Printing; Building science; Construction; Infrastructure; Technology

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