3D Printing in the Middle East – From Hype to Hope!

3D Printing in the Middle East – From Hype to Hope!

Suneel Kashyap

Among the forefront of Industrial revolution 4.0 Suneel Kashyap is a fully accomplished, results driven and technically sophisticated professional with over 20 years of multi-disciplinary experience in UK, UAE & INDIA, focusing on offering solutions in 3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing)

An academically qualified master’s degree holder in Rapid Product Development from the UK, Suneel Kashyap is an Additive Manufacturing ( 3D Printing) expert who is Passionate about developing long-term relations with the current and relevant industries.

The 3D Printing market in the Middle East encompassing UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , Qatar, Kuwait & Oman has grown over the past years with various industries using 3D printers to produce Parts, prototypes and Models.

After a few years of closely delving in 3D Printing in UAE and Middle east market, the biggest question asked is Additive Manufacturing Disrupting the current Industry and if so, then what is the rate of adoption and in which Industry verticals?

The 3D Printing market in the UAE & Other countries in Middle east encompassing KSA, Qatar, Kuwait & Oman has grown over the past years with various industries using 3D printers to produce Parts, prototypes and Models. We can estimate the growth by directly linking the ratio of number of bureaus providing services and amount of variety of 3D printers being sold in the region.

Influencing Factors for growth of 3D Printing

  • Increase in knowledge base & expertise

From 2017- 2018 edition of the State of 3D Printing, we can see a major shift in the level of expertise from the users and providers and the percentage of users considers themselves having intermediate knowledge or users/providers having good knowledge of the subject.

  • Increase in 3D printing application – Polymers & Metals

We have focussed on how different 3D printing technologies, materials (metal 3D printing), and respective industry suitable postprocessing and surface finishes are being used. Not only did we see that plastic is still the most used material, and that more types of surface finishes on the end use parts are used in general manufacturing, The Metal application using DLMS technology has gained the traction, we are also witnessing some of the service bureaus are developing interesting case studies and end use parts with certification for respective industries in the use of metal for 3D printing, especially in Oil & Gas, marine and Offshore Industries.

  • Increase in 3D printer purchases

We see that different adopters such as Students, architects, hobbyist, artists, designers, corporates, Industrial manufacturing companies, service bureaus and education institutions are investing on an regular basis to learn more and produce more of the components or parts as compared to just a few industry verticals in the past., we can see that people wish to use 3D printing for more applications. More number of technologies were introduced to market with different build capacity, material selection and faster production such as MJP, Desktop SLA, Faster DLP Printers and FDM with special Materials.

  • Increase in the number of Service Bureaus

Few new Service Bureaus were introduced in just last year, not only in UAE, but in KSA, Kuwait, Oman Bahrain, Jordan and also the major development we saw was the increasing wish for businesses to hire calibre managers, operators and designers. We have also experienced different setups focussing on just a few 3D Printing technologies to provide excellent quality services and open up vital channels of mass and contract manufacturing.

  • 3D printing for Scale models and other Manufacturing

When asked about, what are their top business sectors are when it comes to 3D printing in this region especially UAE,  Scale Models and Prototypes still topped with  majority of revenue streams as of today, however we simply can’t ignore the potential and growth of the End user parts for manufacturing sectors since 3D printing offers the ability to offer mass manufactured products without the major costs that come along with traditional manufacturing methods.

In the UAE, the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy, Abu Dhabi’s accelerated rate of adoptions in Manufacturing and construction industries and Sharjah;s Research park initiative aims to use the technology to maximise efficiencies and to go through a rigorous awareness creation program to introduce design thinking and manufacturability at the grass root level.

For the Manufacturing Sector with many opportunities on the horizon, companies can focus on these initiatives they’ll invest to utilize additive manufacturing.

  • Digitization, designing new parts for production- New Product Development

  • on-demand production, restructuring of supply chains and reducing time-to-market.

Developing a new component or to reverse engineer and to create an improved design can require multiple iterations and prototypes before the customer’s needs are met. 3D printing enables rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing which can reduce the time it takes to build a prototype from weeks to just hours. Adoption of these technologies can help new parts move more quickly through the design cycle to production hence reducing significant costs and producing a part on-demand with 3D printing enables manufacturers to print parts as needed and will help companies realize huge reductions in inventory and storage costs. Also, with 3D printing, the manufacturing process can speed up significantly, helping companies design, manufacture and increase the time to market

Applications for 3D printing in these markets will continue to increase in the future as today’s usage and applications will be expanded by the capabilities of 3D Printing (Additive manufacturing) Industries such as aerospace where companies like Emirates, Ethiad and Strata have already begun incorporating the advantages of 3D printing at different levels of operations, Defence and Military sectors with their subsidiary units like Tawazun, Caracal and Nimr have already begun adopting 3D printing to produce better performing parts while minimizing costs. Universities/schools such as Khalifa university, AUD, AUS, UAEU, Zayed, HCT and other university continue to invest in their student applications and into their R & D Wing.

Medical and dental applications under the Influence of authorities of DHA, SEHA and in Hospitals Such as SKMC, NMC, Rashid, Burjeel Hospitals are being used to have better outcome on patient diagnosis and treatments.

It’s not just these markets that has brought the opportunities, Jewellery and dental application have long been served with 3d printing technologies, new markets such as Consumer, Industrial, Interior design,  fashion products and eyewear are all continuing to be disrupted by 3D printing.

There are some fascinating developments, since scale models, prototyping & production of end use parts are the most popular 3D printing applications in 2021/22 with R&D departments, universities being the most active adopters. Prototyping is experiencing rapid growth as evidenced by the percentage increase in adoption between 2018 and this current year. Adoption of 3D Printing in production environments is increasing, we have observed that offering customized products and services is also increasing as manufacturers rely on 3D printing to streamline and grow their mass customization. Manufacturing sector is also finding 3D printing can contribute to increasing production flexibility, further increasing sales and driving revenue growth.

Future of 3D Printing in the Middle East

In the Past, it was a relatively slow adaptive region for technology. The big challenges are some really big Industry verticals such as Construction (not only concrete 3D Printing) and Oil & Gas, however the local government totally understand where this might go and how they need to support helping transition some of these new ideas and strategies into effective adoption of this technology into mainstream manufacturing.

There is certainly an important role for 3D Printing in this region. we believe the real revenue, is in manufacturing applications. The real opportunity is how we can play a role in offering products and services around final-part production, versus making visual aid models and prototype parts.

3D Printing will grow through, increased applications in existing markets, expanded product applications new and additional opportunities from a varied market. Adopting and adapting this technology, will deal with various relevant fields including 3D content, cloud services, part-building services, design optimization and many more just like any other Industry and there will be excellent opportunities created for all skill levels in terms of Jobs and growth prospects in future.

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Suneel Kashyap
Director at Layer X 3D Printing

Among the forefront of Industrial revolution 4.0 Suneel Kashyap is a fully accomplished, results driven and technically sophisticated professional with over 20 years of multi-disciplinary experience in UK, UAE & INDIA, focusing on offering solutions in 3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing)

An academically qualified master’s degree holder in Rapid Product Development from the UK, Suneel Kashyap is an Additive Manufacturing ( 3D Printing) expert who is Passionate about developing long-term relations with the current and relevant industries.