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Dubai 3D factory muscles in on aviation sector

Paradigm 3D launches its new Dubai facility, which the company hopes will take some business away from traditional manufacturers Paradigm 3D
Paradigm 3D launches its new Dubai facility, which the company hopes will take some business away from traditional manufacturers
  • New facility uses Stratasys 3D printers
  • Boost to regional manufacturing
  • Dubai can become aviation MRO hub

A new 3D printing facility in Dubai, certified to produce airplane components, is anticipated to cut into a portion of traditional global aviation manufacturers and maintenance hubs.

Paradigm 3D has invested AED20 million ($5.5 million) to establish a factory using technology from Stratasys, an American-Israeli maker of industrial 3D printers that are used by industry leaders such as Boeing and Airbus.

Justin Cunningham, marketing manager at Stratasys, told AGBI that the 11,000 square foot factory in Jebel Ali makes it possible for the UAE to compete with countries that have a much longer heritage of manufacturing. 

“It’s taking some business away from traditional manufacturers like the Far East, and some of the maintenance hubs in Europe,” he said.

“It’s not necessarily a cutting of a cord, but definitely a reduced need to order parts from centres of excellence in Europe, the US and Asia. It allows agile production in the region, whereas before they had to do it elsewhere.”

The additive manufacturing process, commonly known as 3D printing, builds objects layer by layer based on input from digital drawings.

It can save time and cost for various parts because instead of subtracting material from a solid block as in traditional manufacturing, it adds material precisely where it is needed.

Cunningham said the Dubai factory also plans to print parts for private jets, helicopters, drones, military aircraft and the oil and gas industry.

“Dubai will be a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) aviation hub like Amsterdam,” Scott Crump, co-founder at Stratasys, said.

“You have so many aircraft coming through here anyway, and all have to go through maintenance and refreshing.”

Crump said that the on-demand and localised production reduces the need for extensive inventories and long supply chains.

In 2019, before the pandemic, the International Air Transport Association estimated that the aviation transport industry contributed more than $47 billion to the UAE economy, roughly 13.3 percent of annual GDP.

The UAE has four major passenger aviation carriers: Emirates Airline, flydubai, Etihad Airways and Air Arabia. 

It is also home to seven international airports including Dubai International, one of the world’s largest and busiest airports. 

A 2023 report by Mordor Intelligence predicts that the MRO market size will grow from more than $421 billion in 2023 to over $471 billion by 2028.

The report said increasing adoption of smart technologies in manufacturing industries is among the major drivers of market growth.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub in July announced an agreement with Tim Investment to launch an MRO hangar at Dubai South for wide-body aircrafts, “to cater to a wider clientele in the aviation sector”. Construction is expected to conclude by Q1 2025.

Crump added that manufacturers currently “underestimate the huge amount of business” in the space industry, creating significant opportunities for Dubai.

The UAE’s investment in the space sector has already surpassed AED22 billion, and the global space sector is expected to soar beyond the trillion-dollar mark by 2040.

Stratasys has provided 3D printed components for Nasa space missions including the International Space Station and Mars Rover, and also works closely with Lockheed Martin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

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