In April 2020, Time Out and Arabian Business launched The Hero Project, in a bid to raise the profiles of the thousands of individuals and companies in the UAE making huge efforts to overcome the COVID-19 crisis.
The project allows members of the public to nominate any person, company or organisation in the UAE who they believe deserves recognition during the current pandemic.
Fahmi Al-Shawwa is one of these nominees.
The Covid-19 pandemic outbreak saw Fahmi Al-Shawwa show his company’s adaptability.
As CEO of Immensa Technology Labs, Al-Shawwa changed production at the Dubai-based 3D printing company to meet the sudden upsurge in demand for medical equipment.
"Fahmi saw a big shortage of personal protective equipment in the UAE market, and costs of PPE skyrocketing, with shortages across all sectors including healthcare providers,” says Sophie Smith co-founder and CEO of Nabta Health, who nominated Al-Shawwa for the Hero Project.
“He quickly pivoted Immensa's team and resources, and mobilised their production towards producing face shields. The objective was to produce face shields at an extremely competitive cost and plug any gaps in the local market.”
Immensa 3D prints the face shields using materials that are biocompatible, and safe for contact with human skin. Face shields should be comfortable for people to wear all day, require minimum maintenance, and be easily sterilised and not disposable in order to reduce waste, Smith explains.
“The team at Immensa produced a number of prototypes within 24 hours of starting working on the project. The entire Immensa team of 16 engineers jumped on the opportunity to produce a face shield that met the standards of the best quality face shields in the market at below the cost of the cheapest option,” she says.
“After numerous iterations, and working with raw material suppliers, Immensa face shields were ready to be supplied to the market on par with those available on the market and cheaper than anything that could be imported.”
Immensa started producing 400 units per day, initially, and quickly ramped up to 1,000 per day, then 2,000, then 5,000. Today, Immensa is producing over 25,000 face shields a day and is in the process of increasing that output to 80,000 face shields a day.
Smith says Immensa’s quick response to the pandemic shows the value of SMEs to the UAE.
“SMEs are vital for a country,” says Smith. “They are agile in nature, they are driven, and are fast to react. The importance of having local manufacturing capabilities is critical for any nation, and 3D printing is a perfect technological fit for industrialising countries in a digital age.”