Eihab Boraie delves into the game-changing world of 3D printing technology and its endless possibilities as he speaks to Hesham Abdel Aziz, founder of one of the first and most robust labs in the region.
When the Internet was invented, those responsible for its creation knew that it had the potential of revolutionising the way the world accesses information. The latest technology on track to make the same, if not larger, impact on society is 3D printing, which has the potential of changing the way everything is manufactured, and looking to be the first to make this technology accessible to Egyptians is a brilliant start-up known as ADMA Labs.
Conceived in 1984 by Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Corporation, 3D printing uses a process known as stereolithography, in which computer controlled UV lasers cure polymers one layer at time generating complex three-dimensional objects that have endless real world applications. As decades passed computers became smarter, and devices like scanners became popular, making 3D printing more accessible to a mass market. Among the first to ride this revolutionary technological wave into Egypt is ADMA Labs, who have derived their name from the technical term for 3D printing; Additive Manufacturing.
Founded by Hesham Abdel Aziz, ADMA Labs have in a 13 months have established themselves as one of, if not the first, in Egypt to assert their services in more than seven practical fields. According to Abdel Aziz: “We produce models for architects and interior designers, wedding theme products, companies' custom production awards and giveaways, industrial and medical prototypes, jewelry designs in preproduction phase. We can almost materialise any 3D model or just an idea into a full colour 3D physical model to be held by hand as a final product and can be integrated in a line of production." The applications are truly endless especially considering that this technology is still in its infancy in terms of generating mainstream interest, and with time will continue to increase it applicability as well as its presence in the market. “Many people fail to understand how powerful a tool 3D printing can be. We believe that our main concern in marketing ourselves is spreading the awareness of the 3D printing concept. People are only beginning to understand the possibilities and are really wooed when they can hold their idea in the palm of their hands,” describes Abdel Aziz.
For manufacturers, 3D printing is a total game changer as for the first time in history, manufacturers no longer have to guesstimate market demands, but rather can create products quickly upon receiving an order. As 3D printers begin to enter homes, manufacturers will be able to send you the blueprints to build the desired product in your bedroom, effectively saving the energy associated with distribution while diminishing the amount of waste generated by products that fail to interest markets. If something breaks in your home, you could just print your spare parts. The concept is still fresh and although there are endless positive possibilities, much like the internet and its sinister deep web offshoot offering guns, sex slaves, and drugs, 3D printing also has its potentially dark side.
Already 3D printers have been used to create deadly guns that are untraceable by metal detectors. Medical applications that can improve life with bio-printing cartilage and organs could also be used to replicate fingerprints. There is even research into designing ‘chemputers’ which, coupled with a 3D printer, can produce drugs giving people the opportunity of being their own DIY chemist. The latter is still far from being reality, however, just like when computers were introduced to markets as slow, clunky and costly processors, 3D printers are still in their growing phase, currently carrying a heavy price tag “Whereas a desktop printer can be as low as $600, a full colour 3D printer can reach as high as $120,000,” explains Abdel Aziz. Over time, computers expanded in scope and became affordable for home use, and it is safe to assume that 3D printers will follow suit. As for making sure that its dark applications never see light, responsibility will fall on governments to regulate manufacturers, which can be difficult as technology always expands faster than passing required legislation to keep it safe.
In the meantime, ADMA Labs are more than happy to provide this exciting expensive technology to Egyptians at a price they can afford. Explaining ADMA Labs pricing structure Abdel Aziz proudly states that “Our prices in Egypt are almost half the prices abroad; each object has its own calculation method regarding the modeling of the object and the materials used to print it. Every object is calculated in volume, and the prices are 10 EGP per cm3 with a 30% all year discount for students and graduation projects.” As it stands, ADMA Labs have already been contracted to print a variety of items for some of the largest companies in Egypt. “One of the most fascinating print jobs is when we printed trophy figurines of the 18 final contestants of Miss Egypt 2014. We have also printed prototypes and custom objects from key chains to life size prototypes and mock ups for many companies in Egypt like ARIEL, Danon, Farm Frites, Bey2ollak, Souq, Sodic, Toyota, Mountain View, HydePark, Mobinil, Alcatel, Novonordisk, among others.”
Although ADMA Labs is still new to the market they have already begun envisioning massive expansion plans in the near future. “We had a great year last year and hope to keep up the momentum as we plan to launch our store as well as a 3D scanning studio with the goal of eventually building the biggest 3D printing factory in the Middle East and North Africa region,” an excited Abdel Aziz remarks. Considering they are among the first to enter the market in Egypt, their goal seems entirely reachable, as the question isn’t a matter of if 3D printing will revolutionize the manufacturing industry, but rather when?
Find out more about ADMA Labs here.