The role of 3D printing in 2020 and beyond

The role of 3D printing in 2020 and beyond

The global 3D-printing market is anticipated to reach US$300 billion by 2025, from US$120 billion in 2020, according to the Dubai Future Foundation. [1]

In another report, the market is expected to double every three years, with the anticipated annual growth of around 18.2% to 27.2%. [2]

Some industries are already reaping the benefits of this technology, with hopes that it will reduce waste production by 60%, cut construction costs by 50%-70%, and labor costs by 50%-80%. [1]

Applications of 3D printing in healthcare

While the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world economy, 3D printing has been extensively leveraged to fight off the virus. A company in the United States is printing up to one hundred thousand nasal swabs daily, in efforts to increase testing capabilities in the hard-hit country. [3]

In the United Arab Emirates, the Dubai Health Authority is providing 3D-printed face shields to protect medical personnel, while Italian engineers are using 3D-printing technology to build respiratory parts and valves for hospitals facing shortages. [4] [5]

Aside from its use for the pandemic-response, 3D printing can be used to develop casts and prosthesis. Prosthetic limbs are known to be costly. However, with 3D printing, engineers can build a more adaptable limb for a patient through 3D scanning and modeling, which empowers thousands to have 3D printed prosthesis that’s fully adapted to their specific situations and disabilities. [6]

Even further, scientists and engineers are 3D printing hearts. Scientists at ETH Zurich 3D printed an artificial heart in 2017, while other scientists are using stem cells to print ‘real hearts.’ 

In the UAE, 3D printing efforts in the medical sector are focused on printing teeth, bones, artificial organs and medical and surgical devices and hearing aids. The value of 3D printed medical equipment in Dubai is anticipated to reach AED 1.7 billion by 2025. [7] [8] 

3D printing as the norm

As 3D printing proves successful in healthcare, it has been leveraged across many more industries.

In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai hosted “the world’s first fully-functional 3D-printed building” in 2016, named the ‘Office of the Future,’ which was remarkably completely 3D-printed in just 17 days. Under its Dubai 3D Printing Strategy, the city aims to have 25% of its buildings 3D printed by 2030. For 3D printing based construction in Dubai, its value is expected to reach AED 7.5 billion by 2025. [8]

Overall, while 3D printing remains a foreign concept to many, it is being purchased for personal use for a relatively low price. For 3D printing enthusiasts and engineers, this opens up the possibility of designing and printing products at home, thus calling for many opportunities for innovation. 

In Dubai, 3D printed consumer products are anticipated to reach AED 2.8 billion by 2025, and they include household items, optics, fashion jewelry, and children's games. [8]

Concluding notes

Many countries, including the US, Japan, and Germany, have allocated hefty budgets for the development of 3D printing technologies across various sectors, such as the healthcare and automotive industries, alongside aviation and consumer goods. [8]

All in all, as disruptive technologies become essential for the development of most industries, with AI and blockchain acting as essential factors rather than luxury features, it becomes important to analyze the value of 3D printing, and its significant potential to improve production capabilities, decrease costs, and enhance the lives of millions across the globe. 

Sources:

1. Dubai Future Foundation
2. 3D Printing Trends Report 2019
3. MIT Technology Review
4. Gulf News
5. Forbes
6. Sculpteo
7. Futurism.com
8. Sheikhmohammed.ae

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