Aug 29, 2016 | By Tess

As a manufacturing technology, 3D printing is inevitably on the rise, as countries from all over the world are making efforts to invest in the technology to take advantage of its many and versatile potentials. Recently, South Africa joined in on the 3D printing bandwagon with the launch of its Additive Manufacturing (AM) strategy. The strategy, which was introduced by South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), is part of the country’s effort to introduce and capitalize on new manufacturing technologies.

The new Additive Manufacturing strategy is aimed at positioning South Africa as a global competitor for 3D printing technologies through the identification of future market and product opportunities. This is not South Africa’s first foray into 3D printing, however, as the African nation has been investing in the technology for the past two decades. According to the DST, South Africa’s public sector has even invested a total of 358 million rand ($24.75 million) into additive manufacturing research and development since 2014. As part of the new strategy, the DST will commit R30.7 million ($2.12 million) towards a collaborative R&D program geared towards 3D printing research, development, innovation, and infrastructure.

Garth Williams, DST director of advanced manufacturing, has promoted the technology by recognizing it as a key part of the fourth industrial revolution. Not only is it well suited for prototyping and product development, but as Williams says, “it is also a digital technology alongside other fourth industrial revolution technologies such as big data, the industrial Internet of Things, cyber security, autonomous and collaborative robots, and augmented reality.”

The AM programme supported by the DST will be focused on advancing 3D printing technologies in the field of titanium medical implants and aerospace parts, as well as polymer AM for design. The strategy will also help to promote the adoption of 3D printing technologies among various sectors. “The investment has imbued SA with specific world-class capabilities, positioning the country to participate in sub-sectors with high growth potential in AM, such as aerospace applications and medical and dental devices and implants,” said the DST in a statement.

In addition, additive manufacturing is primed to help South Africa improve its traditional manufacturing sectors by allowing for shorter lead times, increased structural complexity for parts, design freedom, toolless manufacturing, articulated parts, customization, and of course, a wide range of materials.

Among the institutions participating in the collaborative AM programme are the Vaal University of Technology, which has a particular focus on the tooling and casting sectors, the Stellenbosch University, and the Bloemfontein's Central University of Technology (CUT) Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing, which works with the medical sector, and on the development of plastic and metal 3D printing materials.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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