Lebanon Builds the MENA’S Biggest 3D Printer
Big Voxel is the first 3D printer designed and manufactured in the Middle East, occupying the full space of a small standalone store in Beirut (wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling). The printer was developed by architect Guillaume Crédoz and engineer Nareg Karaoghlanian, primarily to build large furniture pieces or machine components. It uses an additive manufacturing process that relies on Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). It deposits a layer of softened or melted materials (like thermoplastics) made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a resistant material commonly used in many consumer products (phones, TV back covers) and readily recuperated/available locally. Big Voxel was built with the support of small investors and private funds. The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) also provided support by reducing taxes on imported parts. The first machine will be a working prototype and will be used to test further improvements. It can currently print complex, solid objects of 2.1 x 1.9 x 1.2 m. Big Voxel will also benefit from the Insure & Match Capital fund (IM Capital) through Kafalat. Starting 2016, Crédoz and Karaoghlanian will look for funding to make Big Voxel commercially available (at around $40,000 per unit) for enterprises, with potential clients and investors already lined up. The pair is also developing an app ( Voxel World) to allow users to design 3D models by tapping and dragging their fingers on their screen, then convert these design into 3D data ready for printing.