Last month, GE Additive signed a 3D printing research Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), and last week the company signed another MoU in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the Dubai Future Foundation (located in Dubai’s 3D printed office building) and Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Development Company. In an effort to speed up customer innovation, digital manufacturing technologies, groundbreaking additive design, and access to global problem solving in the UAE, the three will work together to establish the region’s first microfactory; it will also be GE’s first additive microfactory with a partner that’s outside the US.
The MoU, when combined with on-demand crowd-sourcing with a goal of solving challenges in the region, plays an important part in starting to fully realize the UAE Vision 2021, with the goal of advancing industrialization, localization and manufacturing.
Beth Comstock, Vice Chair, GE, said, “The ability to partner with both Mubadala and the Dubai Future Foundation – two entities which enjoy an amazing track record in advancing emerging technologies and levelling up innovation platforms within the region – is truly exceptional. We share a significant history of working toward projects that advance the region, and these Microfactories continues that rich tradition. It will support the growth of entrepreneurs and SMEs in the digital industrial space, building a local ecosystem and community of suppliers across the key industries. GE is thrilled to partner once again in accelerating the use of this game-changing technology.”
Comstock signed the MoU last week at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) in Abu Dhabi, together with Mubadala’s Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak and His Excellency Mohamed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the Dubai Future Foundation and Minister of Cabinet Affairs in the Federal Government of the UAE. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, witnessed the signing.
The MoU’s goal is to first build a microfactory in Abu Dhabi, which will serve industrial companies, and then build one in Dubai that’s focused on services companies and consumer goods. The microfactories will help in upscaling the manufacturing and design capabilities of the region, and in supporting the UAE’s 3D printing and small batch manufacturing developments. It will also support customer co-creation and ecosystem development, as well as discover new regional sectors of growth. Microfactories are an important part of the industrial 3D printing process for other companies as well, including Local Motors. In 2014, GE Appliances worked with Local Motors to establish its affiliate FirstBuild, which operates a microfactory filled with Stratasys 3D printing equipment.
The UAE has been rapidly expanding its innovation landscape, and the ability of the proposed microfactories to continuously build products will bring about new collaborations to support both Vision 2021, and ultimately Dubai’s 3D Printing Strategy.
“As a nation, our remit is a clear one: identify and act upon unique and sustainable partnerships that provide significant advancements across all sectors, in line with Vision 2021. The leadership of the UAE is a firm believer in the exceptional opportunities presented by a proactive and future focused strategy, enabling individuals, companies, sectors and the nation to progress through the use of innovative and collaborative tools and platforms. These Microfactories are a glimpse of what the future represents, combining innovation and educational ecosystems with fast, efficient and sustainable manufacturing capabilities. The possibilities are truly limitless,” said H.E. Al Gergawi.
Vision 2021 has a straightforward goal: for the UAE to be among the best countries in the world by 2021. Ensuring sustainable development, keeping the country safe and preserving its unique identity, and offering world-class healthcare and education systems will help make this vision a reality. Capability-building and education are both equally important to the success and sustainability of the microfactories that will be built as a result of the joint MoU; access to engineering and innovation consultants will also be helpful, along with the ability to collaborate with some of the leaders in the field through “the uniquely incorporated crowdsourcing platform.”
Al Mubarak explained, “Manufacturing across many sectors has contributed to the diversification of our economy, and a number of Mubadala’s portfolio companies have made great strides in using collaboration and innovation to deepen manufacturing expertise. This partnership with the Dubai Future Foundation and GE on these innovative micro-factories has the potential to further this expertise and enhance the country’s competitive edge.”
“The opportunities in the UAE – and, of course, the broader Middle East markets – are abundant, and it is incumbent upon us, in collaboration with our partners, to work together to advance opportunities for inclusive and sustainable progress. The Microfactories are a concrete example of the results that can be achieved when innovation can take transformative and tangible form. We are phenomenally proud and optimistic about what it can deliver against UAE’s Vision 2021 and the country’s economic goals,” said Mohammad Ehteshami, VP of GE Additive.
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