Qatar’s first facility for 3D printing concrete and buildings is now operating, say researchers from Qatar Foundation (QF) partner Texas A&M University at Qatar (Tamuq), who are focusing on the manufacturing aspect of structures and developing new materials for 3D printing.
In 2020, Tamuq and Al Jaber Trading and Contracting (JTC) partnered to introduce the advanced technology to Qatar to enable 3D printing of buildings. The technology will support the production of sustainable 3D-printable concrete that will have improved properties to withstand Qatar’s environmental conditions which will mean faster and more sustainable construction.
Experts from Tamuq will lead research efforts in this area and provide expertise in materials behaviour and 3D printing of concrete using a full-scale 3D printer. JTC will support Tamuq’s research by providing technical expertise in construction of concrete structures, as well as resources to enable the delivery of the research outcomes to the construction industry in Qatar.
Mohamed al-Hamayda, JTC’s general manager, said, “Concrete 3D printing is a promising construction technology; it is currently very effective when it comes to making big objects — with complex geometry — using concrete. The 3D printer in our facility can print any shape within minutes, it doesn’t need any moulds for instance unlike the conventional precast concrete technology. After the architect designs, the 3D render of the shape that he/she imagines; the operator inserts the design file in the software, adjust the programme and then the robot prints it in full 3D scale using special concrete material.”
Qatar has invested substantially in the construction of infrastructure, said Dr Eyad Masad, professor in the Mechanical Engineering Programme at Tamuq and the Zachry Professor in Design and Construction Integration at Texas A&M’s main campus in College Station, Texas who was critical in bringing the technology to Qatar.
Masad’s expertise is in the development of innovative methods for characterising construction materials, and the results of his research are increasing the longevity and sustainability of infrastructure in Qatar. He has been at the forefront of several Tamuq initiatives that are advancing safety and sustainability, and are integral to standards for world-class infrastructure in Qatar.
Masad said current research using the 3D printer primarily focuses on developing sustainable materials for 3D printing, such as geopolymers and concrete with enhanced thermal and structural properties.
“Our goal is to use this technology for rapid, sustainable construction in Qatar, and reduce construction waste,” Masad said. “This technology is adding new capabilities to Qatar’s construction industries and we would like more companies to be able to access the 3D printer.”
Dr César Octavio Malavé, dean, Tamuq added,“ We believe that smart manufacturing can revitalise the small industry domain in Qatar, and with proper resources and investment, we can create leadership in downstream manufacturing by partnering with small local industry to create value-added products. The 3D Printing Concrete Facility is part of this focus, and we are proud to partner with government, industry, academic institutions and research institutes to meaningfully contribute to Qatar and its communities.”