The Government of Dubai has inaugurated the new Robotics & Drone laboratory at DEWA, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s Research & Development Centre. The new building is the first building in the UAE to be fully printed onsite, and the first such 3D printed lab in the world. The lab also houses rovers and drones that are designed and built in-house.
Located the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the DEWA center supports innovation in all production and operational areas, becoming a global platform to enhance the operations and services of across DEWA’s divisions.
Through its R&D Centre, DEWA has developed advanced infrastructure and specialized software in 3D printing and additive manufacturing. DEWA is the first organization in the GCC to deploy Markforged Metal X 3D printing based on reinforced filaments. This technology is meant to reduce time and costs, improving efficiency and productivity and enhancing innovation at DEWA.
DEWA uses 3D printers to produce prototypes and spare parts for its generation, transmission, and distribution divisions, and to support the digitization of its inventory. The R&D Centre supports rapid changes through its 3D printer advanced features. It also provides technical solutions, training, knowledge sharing, mechanical testing, techno-economic analysis, and research and development in additive manufacturing.
A world-class, sustainable platform
“The R&D Centre supports DEWA’s efforts in innovation which is a key pillar of its work. 3D printing projects launched by DEWA are widely recognized by utilities worldwide,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA. “DEWA works to enhance its production and operational capacity by investing in these technologies. This is through its 3D printing program which has been selected as one of the Dubai 10X initiative projects. The initiative was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which mandates the Government of Dubai to be a global leader that is 10 years ahead of all other cities. The program also supports the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy, which is a unique global initiative to use technology for the service of humanity and promote the status of the UAE and Dubai as a global hub for 3D printing technology, by 2030.”
Waleed Salman, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Excellence at DEWA, referred to the importance of the R&D Centre in providing self-sufficiency for DEWA in terms of developing innovative solutions and technologies. The center adopts the latest Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies, including 3D printers, such CYBE construction printers Markforged Metal X metal printers. The Center strengthens capabilities in 3D printing, through workshops and training sessions. Besides, it develops the experiences of its engineers and researchers and consolidates their knowledge of additive manufacturing, which supports national capabilities. The number of Emirati researchers at the DEWA Center has reached 70%.
DEWA papers and patents
Research projects on 3D printing have resulted in several papers being published. These include “Materials for 3D printing in construction” at the 2nd Annual Conference on 3D Printing & Additive Manufacturing. The center’s researchers also published several papers at different editions of The International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE). These include ‘Autonomous PV panel detection using a drone;’ ‘Enhanced PV Panel Detection Using Drone Equipped with RTK;’ ‘Autonomous PV panel inspection with Geotagging capabilities using drones;’ ‘Comparison of UGV position estimation with GNSS-RTK and GPS using EKF.’
The R&D Centre also held an awareness workshop on 3D printing during which it reviewed examples for producing spare parts using 3D printers. This contributes to innovating solutions that enhance productivity, save on time, efforts and costs.