The Rise of 3D Printing in the Middle East and Africa 1The budget allocated for 3D printing in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is reported to increase from $47 million to $1.3 billion over the 2015-2019 period, according to the Semiannual 3D Printing Guide published by the International Data Corporation (IDC). This guide is a framework that provides IT technicians with a focused perspective on where 3D printing expenditure should be heading over the next five years.

The growing use of 3D printing in MEA, as stated in an article by IT News for Africa on Feb.24, 2016, is predicted to have positive impacts on various fields including the manufacturing industry. According to IDC’s analysis, 3D printing enables products to be customized based on individual markets’ needs.

While the research firm expects to see Asia-Pacific as the major contributor to the implementation of this new technology, it indicates that “MEA will maintain its position as a frontrunner in this space, and its share of global 3D printing spend is expected to grow from 4.3 percent in 2014 to 5.0 percent by 2019.”

Martin Kuban, a senior research analyst with IDC Manufacturing Insights, further explained the versatility of the 3D printing technology, stating that apart from the straightforward applications within the automotive and aerospace industries, tech experts are anticipating “innovative and potentially transformative 3D printing deployments among medical suppliers, electronics manufacturers, and tools and components manufacturers.”

Recently, 3D printing in the Middle East and Africa has demonstrated its transformative powers. On Dec. 28, 2015, the BBC reported a groundbreaking initiative by the Institute of Digital Archaeology: A destroyed Syrian heritage site will be recreated from 2D images using a 3D printer.

The heritage site, a 2,000-year-old arch in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria, was destroyed by the Islamic State group last summer. The Institute of Digital Archaeology, led by Harvard University, the University of Oxford and the Museum of the Future in Dubai will 3D-print replicas of this historic monument during UNESCO’s World Heritage Week in April of this year, as reported by the Washington Post in a Jan. 7, 2016 article.

The forthcoming recreation of the Arch of Palmyra, according to the Washington Post, belongs to a larger effort called the Million Image Database made possible by the Institute for Digital Archaeology and UNESCO. This collaboration aims to preserve and restore historical landmarks in the Middle East and Africa, as stated on the project’s website.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Alexy Karenowska, director of technology at the Institute for Digital Archaeology, said that the ultimate goal of the project is “to draw international attention to the global crisis surrounding the looting and destruction of cultural heritage objects and architecture.” Karenowska believes that it is important “to celebrate the beauty and significance of these objects to the everyday lives of modern people.”

This event demonstrates only one way in which the development of 3D printing in the Middle East and Africa can have a huge impact. Given increasing financial support, this advanced tool has the power to affect the economy, education, health, history and culture.

Hoa Nguyen

Sources: IDC-CEMA , IT News Africa, BBC, Digital Archaeology, Washington Post
Photo: Wikimedia Commons