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Printing the future

23 Nov 2020 By SHADDAD AL MUSALMY

With the wide usage of 3D printing and the technology increasingly becoming an important pillar of the manufacturing sector, additive manufacturing has proved its potential. Three-dimensional printing is democratising manufacturing – in the architectural, industrial, medical supplies and more fields. 

Several industries worldwide are witnessing dramatic developments in 3D printing given the maturation of additive technologies and material supply chains, and Oman has kept pace with global trends as a result of the increasing demand for goods made locally. 

InnoTech, which specialises in 3D printing services and produces parts for oil and gas companies, industries, and research and development labs in Oman, is making headway in the field. The start-up recently received a seed investment for its 3D printing activities.

“Mubadara Investment will help us expand the company’s business plan, especially in the field of 3D printing in the medical, industrial and architectural fields,” Eng Othman al Mandhari, founder and CEO of InnoTech, told Muscat Daily.

According to him, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to paralyse international trade and disrupt supply of goods and services earlier in the year, his company began printing and providing life-saving ventilators and face shields for those on the frontline of the COVID-19 war in Oman.

Eng Mandhari claims InnoTech was the first Omani company to venture into 3D printing, eventually focusing on spare parts for machines and pipelines for businesses and factories in the oil and gas sector.

“COVID-19 gave our business a boost. Earlier, people didn’t believe in our technology and we had to conduct demonstrations to show customers. Now, people are convinced that our technology works. We manufactured 40,000 face shields for hospital staff and 40 ventilators using 3D printing,” Mandhari informed.

Local manufacturing using 3D printing technology is the answer to Oman’s economic diversification efforts, reduce reliance on imports, create jobs for nationals and build new industries. “As part of our expansion plans, we hope to create more jobs directly or indirectly. This will help us realise our goals in line with Oman Vision 2040,” Eng Mandhari said. 

“With the seed investment, why not invest in young engineers of whom thousands are looking for jobs in Oman? We hope to educate them, start manufacturing and exporting our products too,” he added.

The investment will fund plans for a 3D printing factory, allow clients from around the world to access a platform to upload files with the technical specifications of their products for manufacturing by InnoTech.

“We are also looking to finance the other part of the business, Innobox, which has already sold 800 units. But we are embarking on a redesign and expansion into other Gulf and Middle East markets,” he said.

In keeping with the global trend in 3D printing businesses, InnoTech is modifying its production to meet increasing demand for medical equipment during the pandemic.

Self-funded, InnoTech was established in 2013. In 2017, venture capital firm Oman Technology Fund invested US$100,000 in its sister business, Innobox, which makes educational kits used to teach children aged eight years and older about electronics and programming.

Winner of the Riyada Best Entrepreneur Award Oman in 2017, InnoTech has a core team of ten full-time engineers in Muscat and Sohar.

 

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