Initially developed in the mid-1980s, 3D printing has come a long way. Today, it's set to revolutionize the world as we know it, from medical procedures, to furniture production, to art and beyond. Given its long-standing status as the creative hub of the Middle East, it’s no surprise that the region's first ever 3D printing shop would be based right here in Beirut. Yes, you too can utilize this cutting-edge technology, thanks to RapidManufactory.


(Photo via Facebook)

RapidManufactory is the brainchild of Guillaume Credoz, a French architect and designer who has worked with 3D printing technology for about 25 years, mostly in Canada. In 2006, he set his sights on the Middle East, bought an old Ottoman house in Damascus, and made plans to renovate it for use as both a home and workspace. The artist was finally ready to set out for his new Syrian headquarters in 2010, but the outbreak of the ongoing civil war prevented that from happening.

When Credoz sought out a new location for his business venture, in neighboring Lebanon. He found an old abandoned bakery in Mar Mikhael, renovated it himself, and aptly dubbed it, 'The Bakery.'

Since launching in April, RapidManufactory has been involved in an array of interesting 3D projects, which proudly line the walls of the workshop: architectural scale-models, assorted ceramics, and other peculiar creations, such as a toy car, and an objet d’art that must have crash-landed there from outer-space. The rest of the space consists of dedicated workstations and facilities including ceramic, carpentry and painting sections.


(Photo via Facebook)

Unlike traditional crafting techniques which involve removing material (carving or drilling something) to produce a form, 3D printing utilizes an additive process; layers of material, varying in shape, are gradually stacked and fused, producing a single solid form.

In the handful of months it’s been around, RapidManufactory has seen every kind of client imaginable. A mechanic brought in a broken part for a water pump and was able to make an exact replica for a price much cheaper than the cost of replacing it. An artist who had just one brass model of a doll was able to produce multiple plastic ones in various colors and sizes. A dentist working on a particularly delicate procedure in which the smallest error would result in catastrophe, had a 3D model of his patient’s jaw made, and was thus able to plot the precise path he had to drill through for a successful operation.

More distinguished clients include Lebanese designer Najla Al Zein, who had a whole lot of custom-made plastic clips printed for use in her large-scale installation piece, The Wind Portal, currently on exhibit at the London Design Festival 2013.

Another prominent client is Lebanese inventor Hind Hobeika, creator of Instabeat, a device swimmers can attach to their goggles to keep track of their heart rate while in the water. To achieve early prototypes of the device, Hobeika sought the services of RapidManufactory. “They [RapidManufactory] are one of the very few places in Lebanon that have a good rapid prototyping machine and can deliver any file we send in a matter of days,” says Hobeika. She continues: “We got to a point in the project where it was important for us to rapidly iterate without compromising quality, which meant that we could not use the cheap MakerBot [a simpler more accessible 3D printing device]. Rapid prototyping allowed us to confirm the angles of our models, the volume, the look and feel, before moving into silicone molding, which is expensive and can only be done once all these parameters are confirmed.”

It comes as no surprise that a business venture like this would not be the easiest to pull off in Lebanon. As Credoz himself said, “This month has been the first [monetarily] beneficial month for us.” But RapidManufactory has some big things cooking in its oven. Credoz hopes to someday offer a service where designers can submit their very own designs, have them printed, and displayed at RapidManufactory (and online) for the public to view and purchase.

If you would like to learn more about RapidManufactory, visit their website or head to the workshop in Mar Mikhael.

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