Regional TrendsTopics

A new business opportunity for everybody

Business owners are increasingly educating themselves about the technology and applications of 3D printing. The awareness and excitement around 3D printing innovation and brands are making entrepreneurs think about how how they can integrate it into their existing business model or help them create new revenue streams.

Ashish Panjabi, COO, Jacky’s Business Solutions, indicates that early adopters of 3D printing will be people thinking outside the box, discovering new applications and identifying new opportunities to offer something new to the market.

Jacky’s which respresents international 3D printer brands Mcor Technologies, BigRep, Concept Laser, MarkForged, Stratasys, and MakerBot in the Middle East region, is betting on the 3D printing revolution to transform every industry in the region. 

“Personalization, one of the biggest advantages of 3D printing, has become an attractive starting point for investment in 3D printers for businesses looking to add value to their existing product range. For manufacturers and retailers, personalization offers the opportunity to charge a premium for their creativity and create additional revenue by introducing special editions of products,” says Ashish.

Currently, the UAE government is among the biggest proponents of 3D printing in the region, having generated interest and demand among it several departments to invest in the technology and its growing applications. In 2015, Dubai announced plans to build the world’s first fully functional 3D printed building. The Dubai government is ambitious about playing a major role in reshaping the construction and design sectors and making Dubai a global hub for innovation in 3D printing.  

“There’s a lot of interest in the education and healthcare sectors. Universities took the lead a few years ago by introducing 3D printers into their training and research curriculum. Secondary and primary schools have started including 3D printing to their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum. Several other training providers are incorporating it into their art and design courses. As the technology evolves with improved user experience, minimal investment and training would be required to install and operate 3D printers and their adoption will become easier,” observes Ashish.

But how can print service providers (PSP) take advantage of this growing opportunity? The majority of PSPs have built their business models on volume, output speed, and cost per square meter. 3D printing has not yet been able to address the market requirements of volume, cost, and speed. Furthermore, with the continuous evolution of 3D printers and material, investment in one or two 3D printers alone will not serve the needs of any industry.

“While outsourced 3D printing is the answer to new business opportunities, PSPs are not likely to enter the business due to the abovementioned challenges. Sign makers, however, could replace their milling machines and CNC routers with 3D printers in the near future. PSPs which decide to venture into 3D printing must invest in training and skill development required to manage the entire process from preparation of the file on a computer, selection of the right printers and materials and understanding the properties of various materials, and post processing,” says Ashish.

Ashish emphasizes that entering the 3D printing business requires a thorough understanding of 3D design, manufacturing materials, and finishing processes. As a result, 3D printing service bureaus have emerged globally and in this region. They usually specialize in 3D printing applications for one or more industries. Some companies specialise in only 3D prototyping. 

“Advancement in 3D printing technology is making the process faster and cheaper. Currently, there’s a disconnect between 3D printing hardware and software, but the progress has been rapid with regard to the development of compatible systems that offer a great user experience.  Tremendous growth in the desktop 3D printing market is an indiator of the next wave of growth,” he says.

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