Venture Formed to Develop Distributed 3D Printing Network in UAE

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Assembrix Ltd, a Tel Aviv-based software company specializing in cloud-based platforms for additive manufacturing (AM), has formed a partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Economic Value Add Program (EVAP) Investment to develop a distributed manufacturing network for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) market. Assembrix’s flagship product, the Virtual Manufacturing Space (VMS) platform, is compatible with AM platforms from leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like EOS and Nikon SLM Solutions, as well as the digital manufacturing networks for corporate giants like Boeing.

Through the partnership, Assembrix and EVAP plan to make the VMS platform available throughout the UAE and the Gulf region more broadly, so that local manufacturers can print parts from files transferred securely through the VMS network. While there are ultimately no limitations on the sorts of products that are compatible with this business model, other than what can be sustained by locally available 3D printing capacity, Assembrix’s existing competencies in aerospace, defense, and oil & gas, making it especially suitable for the Gulf market.

In a press release about Assembrix’s partnership with EVAP Investment to bring distributed AM to the Gulf region, the CEO of Assembrix, Lior Polak, said, “We are pleased to partner with EVAP Investment and excited to be part of the huge opportunities of the [AM] market in the UAE. Our partnership will achieve a new milestone of innovation and progress in the UAE and GCC [Gulf Coast Community] regions’ [AM] landscape.”

The managing director of EVAP Investment, Kim Schofield, said, “Together, EVAP and Assembrix will connect all stakeholders to deliver Technology, Know-How and Data in the UAE and GCC [AM] ecosystem.”

Last week, Paradigm 3D, a services bureau in Dubai, announced an investment of over $5 million in a 10,000+ square foot facility to print aerospace parts, which, according to the company, makes it the first certified facility for aerospace parts in the Middle East. No word on whether Paradigm 3D will be leveraging Assembrix’s VMS platform, but the facility — which utilizes Stratasys machines and expects to be able to print 2,000 parts a year immediately — is exactly the sort of operation that explains the rationale behind the Assembrix/EVAP Investment deal.

In more general terms, the VMS platform fits roughly into the same space in the AM market as the Digital Source recently announced by Markforged, though it does not appear that VMS facilitates licensing of digital part files from major brands. As Shai Terem noted in my conversation with him about Digital Source, Markforged plans to make the platform agnostic down the road, meaning that the idea is for Digital Source eventually to be compatible with 3D printers made by other OEMs. As the business model evolves, it will be interesting to see if Digital Source also becomes compatible with other digital networks, such as Assembrix’s VMS.

Assembrix’s timing certainly seems right, with the Gulf rapidly increasing its capacity for 3D printed aerospace and oil & gas parts. The fact that this ecosystem is developing in large part thanks to partnerships between Israeli and UAE companies makes me wonder if the little-known “I2U2 Group” — one of seemingly countless security dialogues the US has spawned in recent years, this one announced in October 2021 and including Israel, India, the UAE and the US — is revving up its activities. If that is the case, Assembrix could quickly begin expanding into India.

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