3D printers may well be a bit of a gimmick for most people, but Dubai has demonstrated that these object makers can be used to make places to live and work in, too.

Imagine if building sites looked less like a construction zone and more like a gradual work in progress as a 3D printer assembled a building gradually.

This might seem like a piece of science fiction, but it’s edging closer to reality with one building overseas in the United Arab Emirates, where architects and engineers have printed and assembled a building that has been dubbed the “Office of the Future”.

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The building covers a space of around 250 square metres and was made by one of the biggest 3D printers to produce it, relying on a printer that was 6 metres high, 12 metres wide, and nearly 37 metres long, with an automated robotic arm printing the building gradually.

So gradually, it took 17 days to print the building, with the installation of the building taking two days.

That means the whole building took less than three weeks to make, which is faster than most methods of construction, and much less labour intensive.

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Materials used by the 3D printer were unusual, with a mixture of cement and something printable the team hasn’t exactly elaborated on that was jointly designed in the United Arab Emirates and the United States, with testing for the material handled in China and the UK.

Sufficed to say, the material has been tested to be reliable and durable, while the shape of the building was selected to maintain reliability, handy since people will be walking into the building and using it, and the last thing anyone would want is to have it fall on their head.

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As for whether more 3D buildings will be made, we suspect this is the first in what could be a massive industry, and the UAE is already planning for more, with the “Dubai 3D Printing Strategy” an initiative aimed to get this part of the world producing more via 3D printing.

Locally, we’ve not yet heard of the concept being setup, but the moment it does arrive on our shores, you can bet we’ll know about.

We’d probably just sit outside watching the big robotic arm build because we’re crazy like that.

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