The Middle East is the cradle of civilization, the area of the world in which some the oldest textiles, tools, and texts have been discovered. This long and storied past, however, doesn’t mean that it isn’t also an area that wants to engage with the latest and greatest technological innovations.
Efforts are underway to create an additive manufacturing service bureau for metal fabrication in the Middle East as the area currently lacks any such facilities. This puts the Middle East at a developmental disadvantage, something that Dr. Alaa Elwany, Assistant Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University, wants to help remedy. But, you can’t just pop up a metal printing service, there is some preparatory groundwork that must first be traversed, as Dr. Elwany explained:
“First is the consulting services. Basically, when there is a manufacturing or service company in the region that is not sure what metal 3D printing has to offer, we help them understand the value proposition of metal 3D printing and how it can contribute to time and cost saving compared to traditional manufacturing technologies such as CNC machining.”
The hope is that in connecting people with this technology, the region will be able to benefit from its possibilities in the same way that other areas of the world are working to engage with it. These types of bureaus exist in Europe and the United States, but were lacking in the Middle East until Julian Callanan founded Sinterex and engaged Dr. Elwany and Dr. Paul Smith, a research fellow from the Glasgow School of Art’s Institute of Design Innovation as technical directors. Sinterex will not only provide those consulting services to help people familiarize themselves with the potential for the technology but will also offer the manufacturing services. The company describes their vision:
“Sinterex is the first specialist provider of Metal Additive Manufacturing Services in the Middle East. From our office in Dubai we help energy, manufacturing, and aviation firms understand and harness the disruptive potential of 3D printing using metals. Our integrated suite of ‘end to end’ services allow us to successfully support clients on their journey from ‘introduction’ to Metal Additive Manufacturing to ‘implementation’ of Metal Additive Manufacturing strategies.”
The organization has just uncrated a metal 3D printer that can be operated on site and is assembling the team of engineers, technicians, and experts needed to begin providing metal 3D printed parts across the region beginning in November of 2016. Their first target market is in the biomedical field, but they hope that the confidence they can inspire there will quickly help them to branch out into a number of different areas. Dr. Elwany described the first step in their vision:
“We would like to be true leaders in additive manufacturing services for the biomedical sector with a focus on dental applications. So, we will be manufacturing customized crowns for dental labs and focusing on establishing our names as leaders in the entire Middle East. That list includes 22 countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Lebanon. We are a relatively young business and were not even hopeful that we would be able to start production in the first year, but our business team secured funds from the region to begin production in November. So, we are happy with our progress thus far.”
This auspicious beginning bodes well for the startup and the technology friendly atmosphere that leading countries in the Middle East have enthusiastically adopted creates an environment ripe for just this type of investment.
[Source: Texas A&M]