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Texas A&M at Qatar introduces concrete 3D printing technology to Qatar in collaboration with Al Jaber Trading & Contracting (JTC)

Published Mar 28, 2021

Qatar’s first facility for 3D printing concrete and buildings is now operating, say researchers from Texas A&M University at Qatar — a Qatar Foundation partner university — who are focusing on the manufacturing aspect of structures and developing new materials for 3D printing. 

In 2020, Texas A&M at Qatar 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 Texas A&M at Qatar will lead research efforts in this area and provide expertise in materials behavior and 3D printing of concrete using a full-scale 3D printer. Al Jaber Trading and Contracting will support Texas A&M at Qatar’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.

Engr. Mohammed 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 molds 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 program and then the robot prints it in full 3D scale using special concrete material.”

JTC’s Engr. Al Hamayda also confirmed that Texas A&M at Qatar and JTC operators are now trained and are ready to 3D print any complex object here in Qatar using concrete. “Our ultimate mutual goal is to participate effectively in developing the construction practices in Qatar in line with its National Vision 2030,” Engr. Al Hamayda said.

The State of Qatar has invested substantially in the construction of infrastructure, said Dr. Eyad Masad, professor in the Mechanical Engineering Program at Texas A&M at Qatar and the Zachry Professor in Design and Construction Integration at Texas A&M’s main campus in College Station, Texas (USA), who was critical in bringing the technology to Qatar.

Masad’s expertise is in the development of innovative methods for characterizing 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 Texas A&M at Qatar 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. This technology has several advantages over traditional construction with concrete. For example, 3D printing can be used to create cool geometries that are hard to do with conventional construction. It is much faster than traditional construction, require less labor involvement, and it has much less waste such as formworks that are used in conventional construction, Masad said.

“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.”

Currently, the facility is being used in a major research project that is jointly supported by Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) and The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). This research focuses on the development of novel, sustainable construction materials for 3D printing that incorporates construction waste. The partners in this research are Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Hecettepe University (Turkey), and industrial partners JTC, Ashghal — Public Works Authority and Seero Engineering in Qatar.

Dr. César Octavio Malavé, dean of Texas A&M at Qatar, said the 3D Printing Concrete Facility is part of the branch campus’s efforts to leverage local and global expertise to maximize results for Qatar — particularly in the area of advanced manufacturing.

“Since we established our research program here at Texas A&M at Qatar,” Malavé said, “our focus has been on addressing Qatar’s Grand Challenges and helping Qatar meet the goals of its National Vision through innovation as it evolves into a competitive and diversified economy. We believe that smart manufacturing can revitalize 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 the State of Qatar and its communities.”