Three-dimensional or 3D printing is a technology Dubai, United Arab Emirates deems essential. In fact, in 2016, the ruler of Dubai and the current UAE vice president (also the UAE’s incumbent prime minister and minister of defense), Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, proclaimed the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy, virtually guaranteeing the development and continued advancement of 3D printing in Dubai.
The Dubai 3D Printing Strategy
The Dubai 3D Printing Strategy is a government initiative that aims to make the Dubai Emirate (and the United Arab Emirates) the leading global hub of the 3D printing industry by 2030. This is part of the emirate’s ambitions to lead the adoption of new technologies and innovations.
As a 3D printing hub, Dubai will become the center of the development, research, and innovation opportunities and activities in 3D printing tech. Through the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy, 3D printing technologies will become fully embedded in all aspects of life, including construction, public works, food production, fashion, and automotive manufacturing. One of the Strategy’s specific goals is to ensure that, by 2030, 25% of the buildings in the emirate of Dubai will be based on 3D printing technology.
The Strategy is focused on three key sectors.
- Construction: The goal is to use 3D printing tech in all phases and types of construction. By 2025, the construction sector based on 3D printing technology is estimated to be worth AED 3 billion.
- Medical Products: Medical 3D printing will focus on printing organs, bones, and medical and surgical devices. The 3D-printed medical products sector is projected to reach a value of AED 1.7 billion by 2025.
- Consumer Products: 3D printing will be used to create clothes, jewelry, and household items, among others. The 3D printing segment of the consumer products sector is estimated to reach AED 2.8 billion by 2025.
It utilizes five pillars.
- Legislative: the development of the regulatory frameworks within which the industry will operate
- Infrastructure: the provision of the infrastructure and research and development support to attract business players
- Funding: the provision of funding sources and investment to support 3D printing tech development and expansion
- Talent: talent and capacity building and activities to attract the best minds in the 3D printing technology field to Dubai
- Market Demand: the promotion of 3D printing’s commercial applications across industries
3D Printing Services in Dubai
3D printing has applications in various domains, including construction, aerospace, automotive, and medical industries. The technology proves particularly useful in prototyping, allowing designers and engineers to test and evaluate their designs quickly and efficiently. However, 3D printing is not limited to prototyping and has been used to produce end-use products as well.
In Dubai, which is committed to 3D printing technology development, the 3D printing industry continues to thrive. It is a place you’d want to be in if you need 3D-printed parts or products.
Below are various 3D printing technology services you can avail of in Dubai, including actual 3D printing and its adjunct services of 3D design, 3D modeling, 3D scanning, and painting and finishing.
1. 3D Printing
3D printing creates physical, three-dimensional objects layer by layer. A computer program relays the details of the product to be printed to a 3D printer; the printer then deposits material on the build plate one layer at a time until the digital 3D model provided by the computer software has been replicated on the build plate.
3D printing service providers can use a range of 3D printing approaches. These approaches include fused deposition modeling (FDM) or material extrusion, selective laser sintering (SLS), stereolithography (SLA), and HP’s proprietary multi-jet fusion (MJF) technology.
3D printing is an additive manufacturing process. It differs from traditional manufacturing methods, such as injection molding and machining.
In injection molding, a mold that corresponds to the shape and dimensions of the product or part being manufactured is filled with molten material, which cools and hardens to take on the form and shape of its mold. Meanwhile, computer numerical control (CNC) machining is a subtractive process. Guided by computer software, the machining tools cut and carve a block of material, continuously and gradually subtracting from it, to create the three-dimensional end-product.
To manufacture a part or product you need — say, you operate the rail system and require a component printed to replace a worn-out part in some of your trains — you can go to a 3D printing company to get that part manufactured via 3D printing. All you need to do is relay the 3D model of the part you need to the 3D printer, and the latter will recreate it according to the model’s specific dimensions.
2. 3D Design
3D design is the process of designing a 3D object from scratch. This is a critical process in product development.
You need this service if you have an idea for a 3D product you want to create. It is also what you need, even if you have no idea what the 3D part or product you need should look like. If you have a specific problem you wish to solve or a particular need you want to address, you can proceed to a 3D printing company for its 3D design services.
Many 3D printing service providers offer 3D design as a separate service to help customers bring their ideas to life. 3D designers can help you conceptualize your product or part design by asking you questions about the needs it solves, its intended function, and your preferred characteristics and features.
3. 3D Modeling
3D modeling is almost always used interchangeably with 3D designing. However, these are two distinct processes.
3D modeling pertains to creating a three-dimensional model of a part or product. While 3D design involves conceptualizing how a part or product might look in 3D, 3D modeling entails precision work, specifying specific characteristics like dimensions and texture that the 3D printer needs.
3D modeling and 3D design are complementary processes and correspond to specific phases of product development. 3D modeling is essential to 3D product development and requires specialized software and expertise.
4. 3D Scanning
3D scanning entails creating a digital model of an object by capturing the physical shape and dimensions of an existing 3D object. 3D scanning can be done using various techniques, including light scanning, laser triangulation scanning, laser pulse scanning, computerized tomography, and photogrammetry. Once the object has been scanned, the resulting digital model can be edited, scaled, and 3D printed.
3D scanning services are particularly useful for reverse engineering, where an existing product or part has to be replicated, scaled up, scaled down, or mass-produced.
5. Painting and Finishing
3D objects are rarely distribution-ready after printing. Painting and finishing services are essential for creating aesthetically pleasing and functional 3D-printed products.
3D printing providers typically offer various finishing services, including sanding, polishing, and painting. These services enhance the appearance of a 3D-printed product, making it look more like a traditionally manufactured product. Additionally, some finishing techniques can enhance a product’s functional properties, such as adding texture to improve grip.
3D Printing: Revolutionizing Product Development and Manufacturing in Dubai
The Dubai 3D Printing Strategy is driving the growth and development of Dubai’s 3D printing industry. Consequently, 3D printing and its adjunct services of 3D design, 3D modeling, 3D scanning, and painting and finishing are revolutionizing product development and manufacturing in the emirate.