3D printing: Opportunities and limitations

André C Meyerhans - Portrait

Printed layer-by-layer, the world’s first fully functional 3D printed office will be in Dubai and designMENA explores how will it impact the field of architecture and interior design.

3D printing has been cited to have numerous advantages in the construction field including faster construction, lower labour costs and less water production. Once the 3D technology advances, the questions is how will it impact the field of architecture and interior design?

Andre Meyerhans, Dubai-based architect and designer, explains that 3D printing is already innovating the working process in many fields, including architecture.


“The big advantage of 3D printing is that one can create complex forms and pieces because the entire building process is automated. It allows also a production upon demand which avoids any issues related to stoc,” explains Meyerhans.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia to become potential market for 3D printed buildings

“Limitations of 3D printing lie in the mono-material technique – this is a key factor in architecture where multiple components are assembled with different material characteristics to compile a finished product. For example, the framework of the chair gives stability, the upholstery makes it soft and the fabric gives the touch and colour. Hence, I assume that quite a substantial amount of work in this project comprises assembling elements and integrating 3D printed features and common building materials.

On an architectural level, the forms chosen suggest the use of prefabricated (moulded) construction methodology. This might be due to the limitations of the technology, yet it would have been nice to be closer to the concept of 3d printing which allows unique, non-repetitive and free forms,” says Meyerhans.


The Office is the first major initiative of the Museum of the Future, launched earlier this year by HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The 3D printed building will act as the temporary headquarters for the staff of the Museum of the Future while the permanent museum is being built and expected to be open in 2017.

The building will be located in the heart of Dubai with the intention to bring together community members and experts through a mix of public events. The space is open and flexible, allowing for a range of uses. It will also feature a small digital fabrication facility and a 3D printing exhibition space.

READ MORE: Dubai to launch first fully functional 3D printed building 


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