Dubai to Open a World-First 3D-Printed Laboratory

Nearly 90 percent complete, a world-first 3D-Printed Laboratory based at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, will soon be open to the public.

By Jagdish Kumar

Post completion, the newly-built printed laboratory aims to be a research centre that studies the science and technology used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and 3D-printing.

To capture learnings from these experiences during construction, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) enlisted university students and specialised academics to attend and participate during the construction phases of the laboratory to learn 3-D printing techniques and processes. The learnings taken from this will help students develop their own designs to be used in later projects.

DEWA CEO Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer says, “we want Dubai to become a world’s leading 3D-printing hub by 2030 and to make this possible, we will also support the national capabilities of researchers, designers, and innovators to bring the best minds from around the world”.

The 3D-printed laboratory has four sub-laboratories, which includes the electronics, software, mechanical, and the prototype laboratories, as well as an outdoor-testing facility.

The electronics lab will conduct electrical design and repair services for drones that can be used by R&D staff, and DEWA employees, while the software lab will develop and provide DEWA with innovative products, research, and educational solutions, running tests on avionic systems, flight controls, and electric power units. Areas of interest include operating systems, mobile computing, cloud computing, virtualization, distribution systems, and software engineering.

The mechanical lab will conduct theoretical and experimental research into phenomena related to the behavior of certain materials, whereas the outdoor flight-testing facility will feature a landing area equipped with sensors, and a power, water, and data line.

“We will help create a well-equipped infrastructure for research, development, design and manufacturing activities that sets out technology application and product specifications to deliver 3D-printed products, at a competitive cost and at high quality,” says Al Tayer.

According to DEWA, this project will mark the beginning of radical transformations in the world of design and construction, as 3D-printing technology will reduce both cost and time; the two most important measurements of any successful project delivery.

A recent research report published by Markets and Markets Research claims that the 3-D printing market is expected to be worth USD 32.78 Billion by 2023, the sector will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.76 percent between 2017 and 2023.

The report attributed growth to factors such as the ease of development of customised products, ability to reduce overall manufacturing costs, and government investments in the 3D printing projects for the development and deployment of the technology.

One industry that will reap huge benefits is the aerospace industry; 3D printing is mainly used to manufacture critical parts of airplanes. The aerospace industry offers tremendous opportunity for 3D printing technologies and holds a promising potential for the market in the coming future. Aerospace and defense vertical held the largest share of the global 3D printing market in 2016, the report adds.

DEWA plans to implement 3-D printing in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and explore the possibility of improving the performance of UAVs, based on Artificial Intelligence.

Through its R&D initiatives, DEWA is utilising 3D-printing and additive manufacturing, as innovative solutions for its internal printing operations for non-metal spare parts for equipment.

The research report also says after aerospace and Defence, plastic and metal segments occupied the largest and second-largest shares, respectively, of the global 3D printing material market.

However, the market for other materials is expected to grow at a significant rate in the next five years driven by the increasing demand for biomaterials used in the healthcare vertical and certain specialised materials (such as laywood, wax, paper) in emerging applications. The markets for new emerging verticals are food and culinary, printed electronics, education, and energy along with electronics, biomedical, pharmaceuticals, and construction.

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