Layer by Layer: Building Qatar’s 3D-Printing Market

Layer by Layer: Building Qatar’s 3D-Printing Market
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When Sidra Medicine, a premier women’s and children’s hospital, succeeded in the first conjoined twins' surgery in Qatar, state-of-the-art 3D printing technology was instrumental in creating a model for vital presurgical planning.

Four decades after the development of the first 3D printing machines, the technology now supports production at scale, lowering design restrictions and paving the way for mass customisation at a lower variable cost. Compared with traditional production approaches, it saves time, inventory space and waste, since unused powder can be reused for the next printing batches.

Poised to reach a global market value of USD 30.4 billion by 2028, additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3D printing, is taking up a growing role in various industries, from aerospace to electronics, logistics and car manufacturing. From prototyping to production, the process is incredibly dynamic and integrated.

The Middle East is a frontrunner in the adoption of AM capabilities. In Qatar, foreign investors can access a flourishing 3D printing industry, backed by robust state support and national programmes that have earned the country an estimated market share of over USD 100 million in the MENA region.

Industries in which Qatar offers unique opportunities for 3D-printed products:

  1. Aerospace: Qatar Airways installed a 3D printed curtain comfort header on its aircraft in 2019.
  2. Healthcare: Sidra Medicine’s state-of-the-art 3D printing technology helped create a model for presurgical planning for the first conjoined twins' surgery in Qatar.
  3. Construction: The Qatar National Manufacturing Strategy aims to establish 3D printing in advanced industries.
  4. Infrastructure: Qatar University used 3D-printed models of football stadiums that Qatar built for the FIFA World Cup 2022TM to test innovative cooling mechanisms.

A recent sectoral study by the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) points to prominent opportunities for 3D technologies in affiliated industries in Qatar, from metals, IT and electronic to building materials. Owing to its mega infrastructure projects, the country’s infrastructure and construction industry was valued at USD 26 billion this year – a figure that will be increasingly supported by 3D printing.

Qatar is a global contender among foreign direct investment destinations, including in the 3D printing industry. It offers up to 100 per cent foreign ownership in all sectors, unrivalled in the GCC region, and boasts efficient legislation to protect intellectual property (IP) and industrial designs to eliminate cross-border regulation issues.

Moreover, several accelerator programmes lend a helping hand to aspiring entrepreneurs and investors. To name a few, the Technology Development Fund (TDF) provides gap funding for early-stage and promising technologies, while the Digital Incubation Centre (DIC) boosts ICT innovation, particularly among young people at the critical stages of growing a tech enterprise.

In its pursuit of economic growth with human and natural resources, Qatar captures the innovative spirit of 3D technologies, which – once adopted – can free up time and space to rethink an organisation’s business model and find additional sources of competitive advantage.

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