Currently on UK TV there is a series, ‘Humans’, about ‘synths’ or synthetic people. These robots are programmed to obey simple instructions and do all those home jobs we no longer have time for. The inventor has programmed a small number of them to think and have feelings or ‘consciousness’ as it is described in the series.
Of course it’s fiction but will this become reality anytime soon?
3D Building in China
Earlier this month in China, a 3D printed two-storey villa was erected in under three hours. The company responsible has been secretive about the materials they used but have applied for a number of patents.
The speed with which this home was built is impressive and so is the square metre cost at just £300 (3000 Yuan) compared to the average price of traditional building at £3,600 per square metre (36,000 Yuan). Add to that the company’s assurance that the materials of the 3D building are strong enough to last 150 years and ‘withstand high magnitude earthquakes’.
In January a Shanghai company WinSum built a 3D printed 5-storey villa at a cost of £100,000 (1 million Yuan). The house was built in sections wall by wall; these were erected on site using steel reinforcements and insulation to meet building standards.
The materials used for the 3D printing were concrete with a mix of ‘friendly construction waste’ namely ground construction and industrial waste such as glass, sand and tailings. WinSum claim this material is even stronger than concrete.
Ready to Build in Dubai
It is WinSun who are planning to build an office block in Dubai in collaboration with Gensler, Thornton Thomasett and Syska Hennessy.
The size of the 3D printer for this is large as you’d expect: 20 ft tall. The office will cover 185.8 square metres and all structural components, detail and furniture will also be 3D printed. The intended ‘ink’ will be a combination of Special Reinforced Concrete (SCR), Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum (GRG) and Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP).
The UAE’s Innovation Committee chaired by H E Mohammad Al Gergawi is keen to advance the country in the latest technologies believing it will simplify people’s lives and ‘serve them better’.
He says, "This project is part of our overall innovation strategy to create new designs and new solutions in education, healthcare and cities. Our goal is to increase the happiness and wellbeing of our residents and to pioneer new solutions for the world.”
According to reports this fast 3D process not only cost less in time and money but can also reduce labour costs by more than 50% (50 – 80%) and save construction waste by between 30-60%.
Being Taken Over by Technology
Of course sci-fi has long predicted that one day machines or robots will take over our lives and we’ve watched with interest even excitement, some of the developments from driverless cars to pilotless drones.
3D printing has been acknowledged as a great advance in technology especially useful for the world of medicine. But did we see it taking over the construction industry? Do we think it will?
Some predict there’s a 50:50 chance that technology will replace us generally or that about 33% of jobs will be replaced by software, robots and smart machines by 2025. Others predict that robots will have reached a comparable state of human intelligence by 2029. Maybe ‘Humans’, the TV show, isn’t so far off the mark after all.
Construction in the Middle East
How many businesses with an eye to saving money will develop the construction industry along the 3D printing route? If it saves time and money, unfortunately we can see a definite leaning.
Of course like all earlier developments and improvements in industry, there will be openings for other jobs, this time mainly in technology.
But for now though, there are still plenty of construction, engineering and quantity surveying opportunities in the Middle East.
If you are looking for a position on prestigious projects in the UAE please check out the vacancies on this site and upload your CV.
Middle East & Asia Recruitment Director