Dubai said it would construct a small office building using a 3D printer for the first time, in a drive to develop technology that would cut costs and save time as the city grows.

3D printing, which uses a printer to make three-dimensional objects from a digital design, is taking off in manufacturing industries around the world but has so far been used little in construction.

Dubai’s one-storey prototype building, with about 2,000 square feet (185 square meters) of floor space, will be printed layer-by-layer using a 20-foot tall printer, Mohamed Al Gergawi, the United Arab Emirates Minister of Cabinet Affairs, said on Tuesday.

It would then be assembled on site within a few weeks. Interior furniture and structural components would also be built through 3D printing with reinforced concrete, gypsum reinforced with glass fiber, and plastic.

The project is a tie-up between Dubai and Winsun, a Chinese company that has been pioneering the use of 3D printers to build houses. Gergawi cited studies estimating the technique could cut building time by 50-70 percent and labor costs by 50-80 percent.

(Reporting by Andrew Torchia, editing by David Evans)

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