3D Printing Revolution Comes to Pakistan

3D printing (also called stereolithography or additive manufacturing) is a process for making a three-dimensional object of almost any shape. It uses a 3D model or other electronic data source primarily through additive processes in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control.

3D printing technology was introduced in Pakistan when Robotics Lab was launched in 2011 in Karachi. It was founded by two friends Afaque Ahmed and Yasin Altaf  who had previously worked in Silicon Valley. They bought a 3D printer for the lab as a tool to help children learn science.

In addition to serving children, the Robotics Lab has attracted commercial clients such as Pak Suzuki Motors, architecture firms and college students doing senior projects, according to the Express Tribune newspaper. The founding duo is now looking for ways to expand its audience.“Our goal is to push this science lab to TCF schools, a nationwide school network covering about 150,000 underprivileged students,” says Ahmed. The project, however, is currently pending because of funding constraints. “We have asked them to find some big donor for this purpose. Currently, we train these children only through field trips to our labs.”

3D printing has excited Pakistanis like Ali Ahsan to build his own 3D printer, according to a story published in Pakistan Today. He was inspired to make things by his father. “My father was a ‘maker’. He always enjoyed problem solving wanted to make life easier. We never saw electricians, plumbers, carpenter coming to our house. He use to do everything by himself and fortunately as a kid I always stood beside him carrying tools and watching what he is doing. That’s what made me a mechanical engineer, a little different as I was pre-trained by a full time mentor. “It was a favour that I wanted to return by doing something similar for my own children. With 3D printing, I can’t tell you the exact moment it all started, but my wife and I spared a room (we call it the Maker Room) with all sorts of tools electronics. And that’s sort of where it all began! The first thing we made were LEGOs for my children and we ended up at LEGO Mindstorm. With an environment of learning you actually don’t have to teach they learn by mimicking you".

Softonix, a Karachi-based creative design agency, started a commercial 3D printing service to offer 3D models to their clients starting in 2012. As the popularity of 3D printing grew among the users of the service, Tayyab Alam told 3DPrint.com that “seven out of ten calls asked us for 3D printers instead of the 3D printing service.” Softonix responded to growing demand by launching 3D Xplore subsidiary to sell 3D printers.

"So we started working on the plans to design and manufacture Pakistan’s very own 3D printer brand, and finally we launched [our line of] 3D Printers for consumers, back in March 2014,” said Alam. “Xplorer 3D is Pakistran’s first 3D printing brand, providing state of the art and affordable 3D Printers. Currently our printers are being manufactured in China and assembled in Pakistan, but we do have future plans to start manufacturing them right here. Currently our product range starts from DIY 3D printing kits to professional level 3D printers.”

Working replicas of expensive scientific equipment could be made for a fraction of conventional costs using cheap 3D printers, possibly saving developing world labs thousands of dollars each time, says a researcher who has authored a book on the subject. The advances in 3D computing mean the age of appropriate technology – affordable, sustainable solutions designed and built to meet local needs – may be here, argues Joshua Pearce, a materials science and engineering professor at Michigan Technological University in the US, in an article in last month's Physics World magazine, according the Guardian newspaper.

3D printing technology has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing. It can be used for 3D model-making, rapid prototyping and production of a range of products for industrial and consumer applications as well as prosthetic limbs and human organs. CAD files for such products can be created by designers from scratch for new designs or downloaded from the web in stl format and modified and customized.

While the industrial use of 3D printers has accelerated, the consumer market for 3-D printing will reach $600 million in 2017, up from $70 million to $80 million last year, according to Kenneth Wong, an analyst at Citigroup Inc. in San Francisco.

Here's a video of a friend Ali Hasan Cemendtaur from Silicon Valley visiting Robotics Lab in Karachi:


Here's Lisa Harouni on 3D Printing:


DEVELOP3D Live: Lisa Harouni, Digital Forming - Talk from DEVELOP3D on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Robotics in Pakistan

Inquiry Based Learning in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Technology in Orthodontics

Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Are there Good Hackers? 

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor


Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#America’s garage hobbyists are fighting #coronavirus pandemic with #3Dprinting. 1000s of techies and tinkerers are jumping in to make desperately needed medical protective gear. about 870,000 #3D printers operating in #US. #PPE #COVID19 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-22/america-s-garage-hobbyists-fight-the-pandemic-with-3d-printers via @luxury

Before Covid-19, most Americans likely hadn’t heard of 3D printing. If they had, it probably conjured visions of tinkerers and techies in their garages obsessing over Dungeons & Dragons figurines. Or worse, they remember it had something to do with plastic guns.

And it is true that designs of Baby Yoda were very popular earlier this year, right up there with storage boxes, cosplay props, pencil holders—and yes—action figures for role playing games.

But the pandemic has turned this expensive, niche hobby into something deadly serious. Those tinkerers and techies are increasingly stepping in where others have fallen tragically short. People across the country are running 3D printers around the clock. In basements, workshops, bedrooms and garages, the web is filled with pictures of individuals churning out personal protective equipment desperately needed by medical professionals on the front lines of a public health catastrophe.

It’s estimated that about 870,000 3D printers are operating in the U.S., according to Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates Inc., who tracks industrial and personal printer sales globally. He noted that if just one-third of those printers are making one PPE item per day, that would add up to almost 2 million PPE items per week.

If some of the anecdotes posted on social media sites such as Facebook and Discord are to be believed, the actual output is much higher.

People are reporting that they are making dozens of PPE items every day. Right now, the most popular items being printed are straps for medical face shields, parts for medical face masks and “ear savers,” a small plastic piece that allows health care professionals and other emergency personnel to avoid putting straps around their ears. After hours of wearing a mask, they can chafe badly.

Jack Chen, the co-founder of Creality3D in Shenzhen, China, said the increase in interest has been unmistakable. Sales of his company’s popular, entry-level machines were about 50,000 units globally in February, he said. That increased by 5,000 units in March as many Americans began to fall ill with the virus (about 40% of the company’s sales go to the U.S.). For April, deliveries are on track to reach as many as 170,000 (they were 85,000 at mid-month).

One member of the this 3D-volunteer force is Kate Bilyeu, a social media marketer in Eugene, Oregon. She recently ordered a Creality printer for about $229, and said she’s prepared to make whatever parts she can to help battle the pandemic.

“Even if I just have one machine, I can print enough for people that I know,” said Bilyeu, 37, who like many others trying 3D printing for the first time, has a personal motivation. Bilyeu said she has two brothers-in-law who work in local hospitals and are constantly at risk because of the shortage of PPE.

For the uninitiated, 3D printers take raw plastic, heat it up to more than 400 degrees (220 degrees Celsius) and convert it, layer by layer, to match designs either downloaded from the Internet or devised on a home computer.

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