Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates and an increasingly powerful World City, has launched the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy, a unique and wide-reaching initiative that seeks to exploit the power of 3D printing to add value to the national economy, and to humanity as a whole.
Initiated by Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy will cover three key economic sectors, including 3D printed medical products, 3D printed consumer products, and 3D printed construction. For the latter, the city’s stated goal is to ensure that by the year 2030, 25% or more of all buildings in Dubai will be built using 3D printing technology.
"The UAE is presenting to the world today the first integrated and comprehensive strategy to exploit 3D technology to serve humanity,” said Sheikh Mohammed at the announcement of the launch. His speechstressed the opportunities, and indeed, the necessity of 3D printing technology in boosting not only Dubai's prosperity, but the entire world's.
“The future will depend on 3D printing technologies in all aspects of our life, starting from houses we live in, the streets we use, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear and the food we eat," he said. "This technology will create added economic value and benefits worth billions of dollars during the coming period. We should have a share in this growing global market. This technology will restructure economies and labour markets as the use of unskilled labour will come down compared to the current situation, especially in the construction sector. It will also redefine productivity because the time needed for 3D printing of buildings and products will be 10% of the time taken in traditional techniques."
Dubai has made no secret of its interest in exploring and exploiting 3D printing technology. Last year, Sheikh Mohammed announced the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 plan, in which 3D printing will play an important role in helping Dubai become the most sustainable city in the world. These grand ambitions have been supplemented by several large-scale 3D printing projects, many of which are world firsts. These include using 3D printing to build Dubai’s Museum of the Future and the world’s first fully functional 3D printed office building. Other projects range from producing clean energy to preserving the region’s most important cultural heritage to 3D printed jetpacks for firefighters.
Above: plans for the world's first 3D printed office building. Below: Dubai's 3D printed Smart Palm
While all of these projects have put 3D printing innovation in the limelight, the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy is, as its name implies, the most explicit in its aim to make Dubai a global leader in additive manufacturing technology.
“Through the 3D Printing Strategy, we aim to make Dubai a global hub for the development of this technology and a base for research and development in this area,” continued Sheikh Mohammed. “We aim to provide the best opportunities for innovation and optimal application of this technology worldwide. Our goal is raise the level of services provided to the people and harness 3D printing for the benefit of the entire community."
As mentioned above, the strategy targets three key sectors:
1. 3D Printed Construction: Sheikh Mohammed made explicit Dubai’s goal to ensure that 25% of buildings in Dubai are based on 3D printing technology by 2030, with the percentage to be raised progressively with the development of global technology and growth of market demand. “We believe that this technology is capable of transforming the construction sector by lowering costs and reducing the time it takes to implement projects. It will also help reduce manpower requirements as well as waste generated from construction which can be harmful to the environment,” he said. The value of Dubai’s 3D printing construction sector is expected to reach Dhs3 billion (US$800 million) by 2025.
2. 3D Printed Medical Products: Dubai’s medical sector will focus on 3D printed teeth, 3D printed bones, 3D printed organs, as well as 3D printed medical and surgical devices, prosthetics, and hearing aids. The value of Dubai’s 3D printed medical products sector is expected reach Dhs1.7 billion (US$462 million) by 2025.
3. 3D Printed Consumer Products: This sector will see everyday items from household goods to optics, fashion, jewelry, games and even fast food benefit from 3D printing technology in order to save on materials, manufacturing times, and overall production costs. This sector is expected to reach DhS2.8 billion (US$762 million) by 2025.
In addition to the three key sectors, the strategy revolves around give pillars: Infrastructure, Legislative Structure, Funding, Talent, and Market Demand. Furthermore, it is to be implemented in four critical stages: Establishment, Qualification, Implementation and finally, Development.
Though evidently quite far-reaching, the plan brings together both government and private sector partners to fulfill its goals. Dubai Municipality, Dubai Health Authority, and Dubai Holding will all play key roles.
The announcement of the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy follows another major strategic launch: that of theDubai Future Foundation and Dubai Future Agenda, which were presented by Sheikh Mohammed last Sunday. The Foundation will serve as an independent endowment establishment to shape the future of strategic sectors, with a heavy emphasis on the role of science and technology.
"Our vision for development is driven by a deep understanding of the future needs, and built on proactive ideas because we want to be in first place globally. Our methodology for development is based on the launch of initiatives that can be applied anywhere in the world and creating a global model for not only our economy but also for the global economy," said Sheikh Mohammed. "The future does not wait for those who hesitate and slow down. The next stage requires us to act fast and utilize the opportunities.”