3D Printing in Africa: A Look into Egypt’s 3D Printing Landscape

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3D print model file of Queen Nefertiti

Egypt has enjoyed a fairly good share of experiencing 3D printing technology and is making pretty good use of it.  Recreating Egyptian mummy faces and bringing Ancient Egypt back to life through the recreation of tombs and artifacts are new developments that connect the past to the present.  But this is just a part of its application in Egypt as the country is relatively advanced from an African technology perspective and so the application of 3D printing in Egypt is vast.

In principle, Egypt has an innovative community and country. This is evident with the numerous start-ups over the past years in regards to opening up businesses providing services in 3D printing. The Egyptian landscape has also at times enjoyed good financial conditions as an industry and this is vital for the development and application of 3D printing technology. This has been strengthened by enthusiasts which are ready to explore and utilise the technology.

One very interesting thing about 3D printing relative to Egypt is that there is a special term being used “3D printing the Egyptian way”. This is all about studying Ancient Egypt in relation to improving 3D printing in ceramics. A technique known as Egyptian paste or Faience is of special mention here.  Faience is the first glazed ceramic material made by man and this could also be the future in improving some ceramic 3D printing applications.

Egyptian Faience

Egypt’s medical sector has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of 3D printing technology. Labs such as Fablab Egypt are offering 3D printing healthcare services to the public. Then there is Project Nitrous with their great application of helping disabled people design their own prosthetics in Egypt.  Amtech 3D printing Egypt is designing and making medical models and tools.

Amtech customized dental model

As mentioned before Egypt is using 3D printing to recreate Mummies, resurrect ancient tombs and even using 3D scanners to view inside pyramids thereby promoting virtual reality applications. I may like to call this Digital tourism which could be the future in restoring and preserving world heritages and historical monuments. Egypt seems to be doing a good job at this.  Restoration of these ancient works is always a good source of income but at the same time, humans have a natural tendency to want to preserve history as part of their lives. 3D printing is surely helping in this endeavor.

3D map of 3D printed pyramid of Giza

You cannot talk of Egypt without mentioning the revolution that took place during the Arab spring which was significant in world view. Why do I mention this? The Egyptian’s willpower to see things through has also been applied to the creation of the maker community in Egypt and Fablab was and is the custodian of this. During the revolution in 2012, the Lab would at times close because of instability but eventually got busier even during those hostile times. Being able to continue from those trying times has been a source of inspiration to the Egyptian makers and enthusiasts. Being the first fabrication lab in the Middle East, Fab Lab now is driving the STEM programs in Egypt and have set up good scientific facilities with the help of USAID.

Fab Lab Cairo makerspace 3D printers

Financial support and great innovative community are the key fuels to promoting the technology in Egypt. There is good reception for it as well so the technology appetite for 3D printing in Egypt seems like it will grow. Technical skills are at their disposal and some of the Egyptians who have been abroad have come back home to implement what they have acquired. Something Africa really needs to develop its landscape.

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