Dubai: 3D printing technology, a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital model, is becoming affordable for consumers and home use and is gaining popularity regionally and globally.
The new trend is making it easier for companies of all sizes and even individuals to take an idea for a product and turn it into a physical object.
“With the costs of desktop 3D printers coming down recently, there is an increase in affordability and accessibility that has facilitated the rise of the “maker community”, turning hobbies such as metalworking, woodworking, engineering, robotics, and any other creative crafts into small businesses,” Naji Atallah, sales manager — manufacturing at Autodesk, told Gulf News.
Autodesk makes design software for 3D printers.
He said the factory of yesterday is evolving into a global community of custom design and personal fabrication services.
Jumbo Electronics is selling the mono-colour 3D printer — Cube — for Dh5,299.
“There are lots of enquiries about the printer but it has not translated into big sales. It is still in its infancy. Customers are not sure whether they should buy it or not. They are very interested in knowing what it can do,” said Nadeem Khanzadah, Head of Retail at Jumbo Electronics.
He said there are couple of other models priced at around Dh14,000, buy they are not available at this time. The mono-colour cartridge costs around Dh275. The end product which comes out is a kind of plastic. There are six colours available now in the market.
These printers are applicable for home use as well as office purposes. It is very useful for home use as customers can make their own mobile covers, bangles or toys, etc.
“It is too early to talk of the demand, but eventually the demand will pick up as customers would like to customise their own stuff. The thrill is to make your own product than buying it from the shop,” Khanzadah said.
Atallah said the first 3D printed car — called the Urbee — had all of its body parts made using 3D printers, including its glass panels. There is 3D printed Harley Davidson at Autodesk’s San Francisco gallery made by MakerBot 3D printer.
“3D printing is becoming more of a mainstream globally and a lot of communities is downloading designs from online and printing it. In the region, this trend is slowly taking off as some of the architects and designers are doing it at the moment as the cost of printers has become affordable,” Atallah said.
3D printing has been for around 20 years.
Individual users are buying the printers to design their own stuffs and are becoming manufacturers themselves.
Regarding patent issues, he said only time would tell.
“I am not sure about the patent issue, it is a grey area. I have heard that the US is working on a legislation regarding this,” Khanzadah said.