In a collaboration between industry and academia, American University of Sharjah (AUS) faculty and students will help create the first 3D printed house in Sharjah at the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park). The house is expected to be completed in 2019. While maintaining a traditional appearance, the house will be printed using state-of-the-art 3D printing technology.
This initiative will help bring Sharjah to the global forefront in the sustainable construction sector and establish the SRTI Park as a regional development center for 3D printing construction. AUS has been teaching 3D Concrete Printing (3DCP) as part of the Master of Science in Civil Engineering program since 2010.
The university is working on the development of this technology and training students in conducting applied scientific research, in conjunction with faculty members and external researchers from specialized companies, including Middle East Engineering Technologies (MEET), which focuses on building 3D printed structures. AUSrecently issued a new faculty research grant that will advance ongoing 3DCP focused research.
Dr. Adil Al-Tamimi, Professor of Civil Engineering, teaches 3D Concrete Printing (3DCP) at AUS: “I have been teaching 3DCP as a theoretical concept with the aim to motivate our students to explore new innovation in the construction industry. The students in this course usually design, produce and evaluate some innovative sustainable concrete similar to 3DCP as part of the course. They will now be able to put their classroom learning into real-life applications and get hands-on training through this collaboration.”
The current research is an extension of work begun in 2017, when Dr. Al-Tamimi and his students were invited by Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of the SRTI Park, to join a workshop on 3D concrete printing led by the Finnish Oulu University. During the workshop, two groups of AUS civil engineering students presented the initial findings of their final year design project on 3D concrete printing, which focused on developing a special concrete mixture suitable for robotic production.
This research has continued to progress. One of the two student groups won first place in a 2018 3D concrete printing mixture competition organized by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 2019, three students in the AUS Master of Science in Civil Engineering program began conducting further research on 3DCP. Haidar Al Haidary, a 2018 graduate of the program, is now employed in the field of 3DCP, working with Middle East Engineering Technologies (MEET).
Elaborating on the groups’ research, Dr. Al-Tamimi, said: “One group is evaluating the bond between multi-layers of the 3DCP produced by nozzle extrusion method simulating robotic action, and the other aims to increase structural performance of the 3DCP in flexural and tensile strengths.”
3DCP is considered to be one of the most innovative and reliable ways to build residential units through the use of digital machinery. According to Al Mahmoudi, as traditional construction costs increase, the 3D technology is expected to reduce overall costs. SRTI Park aims to provide a regional center for the research and development of 3D printing construction, and AUS students and faculty will gain hands-on experience with the technology through this collaboration.