Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, is recognised as one of nine technology pillars that will enable the smart factory of the future. The technology allows for the production of customised parts and components to support the shift towards mass customisation and digital manufacturing.
The South African Additive Manufacturing Strategy, launched by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) in 2016, aims to improve South Africa’s manufacturing competitiveness while creating new manufacturing industries in the country. The strategy identifies future market opportunities and focus areas that can guide investment in AM research, development and innovation.
South Africa is already demonstrating world-class capabilities in AM following significant investment in the sector. This has positioned the country to participate in sub-sectors with high growth potential in AM, such as aerospace applications and medical and dental devices and implants.
Since 2014, South Africa’s public sector has collectively invested approximately R358 million in AM research and development (R&D) and systems. In addition, the DSI has committed R30,7 million to a collaborative programme focusing on the production of titanium medical implants and aerospace components using AM. The programme also seeks to increase the adoption of AM as an accepted and viable manufacturing technology.
It is against this backdrop that the DSI has partnered with Central University of Technology (CUT) to host the 20th Annual International Conference of the Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa (RAPDASA) in Bloemfontein from 5 to 8 November.
Taking place under the theme “Creating the future of manufacturing � layer by layer”, with the sub-theme “Establishing the 3D printing process chain”, the event will give participants from industry, R&D institutions, academia and government the opportunity to gain insights from local and international experts such as Dr Terry Wohlers, Prof. Eric MacDonald, Prof. Alain Bernard, Prof. Deon de Beer and Markus Glasser.
The DSI will host a pre-conference seminar on additive manufacturing of titanium, as well as an exhibition running in parallel with the conference which will showcase the latest AM technology and applications.
RAPDASA, a non-profit organisation established to create a community network for the South African AM sector, connects leading innovators, entrepreneurs, industry partners and academics through various engagement activities. The DSI has played an active role in supporting RAPDASA through the funding of workshops and conferences.
CUT is home to the Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (CRPM), which is doing ground-breaking work in the use of 3D printing technology in the design, development and manufacture of medical devices. In 2015, the centre was awarded the Research Chair in Medical Product Development under the DSI’s South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI).
Source: Department: Science and Technology