Dubai, a city of excess, which claims the tallest building in the world—the Burj Khalifa, at 2,722 feet tall—is now trying for another record: the world’s largest 3D printed building.
The city chose Nasa-award-winning 3D printing company APIS Cor to build a two-story municipal administration building, reaching 31 feet tall and covering 6900 square feet.
A single machine extruded the concrete for the walls, and was periodically moved around the construction site by a large crane. But it’s not 100% 3D printed: the printed walls sit on top of laid foundations of concrete and tied rebar. And when the printing is done, crews will be installing windows, doors, and other amenities—the 3D print is more of a shell than a finished structure.
Still the building is record-breaking. In an age where 3D printing is reserved mostly for academic exercises or to alleviate homelessness through cheap, quickly-produced homes (such as those recently built in Mexico) this is the first time that an entire structure has been 3D printed to meet the rigorous standards of not just the engineers but also the aesthetically-inclined architects—and on such a large scale.
The printing took place out in the open of the desert winds, to prove that the technology could withstand harsh conditions that are not climate and humidity controlled.
"The project gave us unique knowledge and invaluable experience that will help us improve our technology and develop a new version of our 3D printer," said Nikita Cheniuntai, CEO and founder of Apis Co. "This project is a huge step forward in the concrete 3D printing industry."