Abu Dhabi wants to sell 3D-printed parts for racing cars and satellites after research breakthrough

This is the first time a Middle East country has contributed a new material to the 3D-printing library

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Abu Dhabi is touting a breakthrough in 3D printing for the automotive and aerospace industries at the massive technology show GITEX in Dubai this week.

Researchers at the Technology Innovation Institute, a government-backed entity for applied research, developed a new patent-pending metal alloy at its additive manufacturing lab, which they say has commercial potential for pistons in racing cars and satellites. 

The additive manufacturing market, known colloquially as 3D printing, was worth $16.8 billion in 2022 and is set to grow nearly threefold by 2027 to $44 billion, according to Research and Markets. Expanding the range of materials that can be used to print parts and withstand high temperatures and other harsh environments is a critical part of building the value of the still-niche 3D field. 

Nesma Aboulkhair, who leads the additive manufacturing team of seven at TII, said this is the first time a Middle East country has contributed a new material to the library in a research domain dominated by the United States and Europe. 

“We are now cultivating the expertise to produce metal powder and design innovative materials, empowering us to manufacture existing alloys and create new ones for both local and global markets,” she said in a statement today. 

AMALLOY, as the material has been dubbed by the TII team, solves long-standing issues faced by the 3D-printing industry to produce metal parts using lasers to melt and fuse powders. Particularly with high-strength metals, cracks and defects are common given the high temperatures of the lasers used in the printing process. The new alloy is more heat-resistant compared to what is currently available.

Venture One, which works to build commercial cases for TII’s research output, is likely to market the new alloy to car, plane and aerospace manufacturers, as well as the oil and gas industry. But these products will not necessarily be mass-produced: at TII, a 5-inch rocket engine prototype part takes about 24 hours to print.

Still, the research hub fits into Abu Dhabi’s overarching industrial strategy,  a 10-year plan that aims to double manufacturing’s contribution to the economy by 2031, which includes increasing infrastructure, bringing down operational costs and improving regulations and access to financing. 

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