MAY 23, 2024

The Correspondent: Oman’s construction innovation explores 3D printing revolution

The Sultanate of Oman stands at the forefront of innovation, driven by a cadre of visionary leaders dedicated to reshaping the landscape of building practices, exemplified in recent developments showcasing steadfast dedication to environmental stewardship and technological advancement in the construction sector.

Architectural Freedom

Engr. Othman al Mandhari, Founder and CEO of InnoTech, shared exclusive insights with Oman Observer regarding the remarkable advancements in construction 3D printing witnessed in Oman over the past few years.

“In the last three years, Oman has experienced a surge in construction projects adopting 3D printing technology. The inaugural project, situated at PDO, marked a pivotal moment as Oman’s inaugural 3D-printed building, employing a local printer and locally sourced cement. Presently, the landscape boasts over 15 3D printed structures scattered across Oman, catering to a diverse clientele, epitomizing remarkable progress achieved within a mere two-year timeframe.”

Al Mandhari underscored the environmental merits of construction 3D printing, articulating, “By substituting cement with natural elements such as clay and limestone, significant reductions in carbon footprints per building are feasible. A one-third decrease in cement usage corresponds to a proportional decline in carbon emissions. Moreover, 3D printed walls offer enhanced thermal insulation, curbing the necessity for air conditioning and overall power consumption, thereby contributing to environmental preservation.”

He shed light on the transformative potential of automation in 3D printing, elucidating, “Automation optimizes construction processes, ensuring heightened quality, swifter production, all at comparable costs. This not only bolsters efficiency but also generates additional job opportunities for skilled labour, ushering in a paradigm shift within the construction sector.”

Acknowledging the challenges encountered during the developmental phase, al Mandhari highlighted, “One significant hurdle was formulating a locally sourced 3D printable, eco-friendly mix. Collaborative efforts with a prestigious international university in the UK spanned 10 months of intensive research and development to achieve desired outcomes. The project secured funding from the Ministry of Energy and Minerals and was overseen by the Industrial Innovation Academy.”

Al Mandhari stressed the harmonization of 3D printing technology with endeavours to combat climate change and advance sustainable development objectives, affirming, “The integration of 3D printing technology in construction embodies eco-friendly practices by leveraging sustainable materials, diminishing energy consumption for cooling, and ensuring heightened construction quality, thereby prolonging building lifespans and mitigating waste on construction sites.”

Engr. Mohamed Sulaiman Mohammed Al Salmi, Head of Smart Technology Solutions at the German University of Technology in Oman, has been instrumental in spearheading the integration of 3D printing technology within the construction industry. Through collaborative ventures with international partners, he achieved a groundbreaking milestone—the unveiling of the world’s largest 3D-printed concrete building at GUtech’s Halban campus.

This monumental structure, spanning an expansive 190 m2, stands as a testament to the transformative potential of 3D printing in revolutionizing traditional construction methodologies. Recently featured in the Observer, its unveiling on January 14, 2022, marks a significant milestone in Oman’s architectural landscape.

Constructed utilizing a super low-cost D.fab concrete solution developed in collaboration between Mexican multinational building materials company CEMEX and Danish 3D-printing technology firm COBOD, the 3D printed house epitomizes the fusion of innovation and sustainability.

Designed to emulate a typical social housing unit in the Sultanate of Oman, the building comprises three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a guest reception area.

The construction process involved printing the house in two stages. Initial adjustments to the materials recipe and training of the Omani crew occurred during the printing of the first part of the house. Subsequently, the Omani crew independently completed the second part of the house, achieving completion in an impressive five days.

The formal unveiling ceremony, graced by esteemed dignitaries including Sultan al Habsi, Minister of Finance, heralded a new era in Oman’s construction industry. Dr. Hussain al Salmi, Acting Rector of GUtech, expressed gratitude to all parties involved in supporting the project. He remarked, “Today’s display of the first 3D printed building is perhaps the first step in the 1,000-mile journey. A step that will not be successful without the support of all parties involved. In this regard, I sincerely thank all the local and international parties who contribute to supporting the centre and the University. We hope that this centre will play its part in supporting Oman’s efforts to achieve Oman’s Vision 2040.”

Al Salmi’s leadership and dedication to innovation have propelled Oman’s construction industry into a new era of architectural excellence and sustainability. Through collaborative ventures and pioneering initiatives, Oman continues to cement its position as a global leader in the integration of

Dr. Ahmed Said Al Busaidi, Executive Director of the Center of Consultancy Services & Innovation Transfer at the University of Nizwa, has long been a proponent of innovative solutions to pressing societal challenges. The recent unveiling of the world’s largest 3D-printed concrete building at GUtech’s Halban campus is a testament to Oman’s commitment to providing resilient, environmentally conscious housing solutions for communities in need. Al Busaidi’s advocacy for sustainable construction practices has paved the way for transformative projects that address housing shortages while minimizing environmental impact.

Integrating this information into the respective sections of the article provides readers with a more comprehensive understanding of Oman’s leadership in sustainable construction, including the significant achievement of unveiling the world’s largest 3D-printed concrete building. Dr. Ahmed Said al Busaidi, Executive Director of the Center of Consultancy Services & Innovation Transfer at the University of Nizwa, epitomizes Oman’s commitment to addressing pressing societal challenges through innovative solutions. Al Busaidi’s advocacy for 3D printed structures as viable housing alternatives underscores his dedication to providing resilient, environmentally conscious housing solutions for communities in need.