Additive manufacturing developments powered by RAPDASA

1 November 2019 News

Over the past two decades, South Africa has seen significant advancements in Additive Manufacturing (AM), otherwise known as 3D printing. As a key player in enabling and developing the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) in the country, RAPDASA (Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa) is recognised as a showcase for the AM sector in South Africa, owing to its continued involvement and innovative growth in the industry.

RAPDASA held its 20th annual international conference in Bloemfontein on 6 – 8 November 2019. Through embracing the complete product development value chain, the organisation is utilising localisation of resources and products. Focused also on solving real-world problems, RAPDASA has been part of AM technology development across all facets of the industry.

AM technology has been active in South Africa for 21 years, with a steady market growth from a single 3D system SLA&160;250 in 1991, to approximately 5&160;700 machines in 2018. Commenting on the role of AM during the 4IR is one of RAPDASA’s founding members, Prof. Willie du Preez: “Additive manufacturing is one of the key technologies in the fourth industrial revolution, which has impacted on industry role players like ourselves, research institutions, and also suppliers of the technology, all contributing towards establishing this technology firmly in the industry”.

The advantages of 3D printing have proved immensely beneficial to industry in South Africa through the localisation of resources, products, and the ability to develop and build machinery. RAPDASA has become a lead player in AM worldwide through its years of active and continuous involvement in the 3D printing world.

Established to create a community representing all facets of the AM sector, RAPDASA is also focused on solving real-world problems. Prof. Deon de Beer, a RAPDASA founding member, explains that South Africa is now at the stage where “new machines can be built to create success in developing our local materials and substituting imports”. This benefits the development of the entire value chain, starting from concept, to design and prototype development.

In addition, Prof. De Beer states that RAPDASA’s next step is to “make the South African community the gateway into Africa to also upgrade industry in neighbouring countries.” Through current projects with the University of Botswana and the Botswana Institute of technology, RAPDASA is transferring knowledge of developing customised implants and planning models to improve quality of life for all, Prof. de Beer explains.

South Africa had a late start with Rapid Prototyping (RP), with the first system installed in 1991. Up until 1994, only three systems were available in the country. With RAPDASA well established on the global map, “South Africa’s position and adoption of technology among organisations, academics, researchers, and government, has rapidly accelerated,” states Dr. Terry Wohlers, a RAPDASA founding member.

Compared to international development of 3D printing technology over the last 20 years, Dr. Wohlers has this to say: “Some of the first applications of the technology were seen at the Centre For Rapid Prototyping And Manufacturing at CUT (Central University of Technology), which has been, for a very long time, on par and even exceeding the status of many companies in the US.”

With all the development of AM technology locally as well as globally, the future of RAPDASA is “industry-focussed, aligning with industry steered research and training towards valorisation,” claims current RAPDASA chairperson, Prof. André van der Merwe.

Machines and processes are now able to produce multiples of custom products, with skilled engineers who can understand the intricacies of AM design completely. RAPDASA’s involvement during the 4IR has catapulted the development and utilisation of 3D printing technology, which has come to not only benefit South Africa, but neighbouring countries as well. The association has been instrumental in creating awareness of the potential of AM in solving real-world problems to make changes and improvements to benefit everyone.

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

From the editor's desk: Engineering education should be made exciting again
Technews Publishing News
Recently, Statistics South Africa reported that, in the first quarter of 2024, 35% of youth between the ages of 15 to 24 were not involved in either education, training, or employment. This amounts ...

Smart manufacturing for electronics assembly seminar
ASIC Design Services News
ASIC Design Services and Siemens Industry Software recently hosted the Smart Manufacturing for Electronics Assembly seminar at the Kleinkaap Boutique Hotel in Centurion with international guest speaker, Jean-Paul Dirven.

Würth Elektronik named preferred partner at Renesas
Würth Elektronik has announced its new status as a preferred partner at Renesas, a global leader in microcontrollers, analogue, power and SoC products.

Otto Wireless Solutions wins 2023 Golden FAE award
Otto Wireless Solutions News
Otto Wireless Solutions announced that their technical manager, Miyelani Kubayi, has won the SIMCom Wireless Solutions Golden FAE Award for 2023.

Quectel receives prestigious Fortress Cybersecurity award
Quectel Wireless Solutions News
The Fortress Cybersecurity Awards honour the world’s leading companies and individuals who are at the forefront of cybersecurity innovation, and winners are selected based on their dedication to developing solutions, and defending against the growing threat of cyberattacks.

Cape Town shores up sustainable energy distribution
ABB South Africa News
The City of Cape Town, which is responsible for delivering energy to the 4,8 million residents of the Western Cape, has awarded ABB a three-year contract for a phased retrofit of legacy medium voltage (MV) switchgear within its electrical infrastructure.

ALX wins EdTech Award at Africa Tech Week Awards ceremony
The award highlights ALX’s contribution to tech education, its scalable impact, and its commitment to transforming the African continent’s technological landscape.

Links Field Networks joins the 5G expansion
This move signifies a strategic push towards enhancing their global connectivity offering and expanding the capabilities of next-generation wireless technology.

Government announces 2G and 3G shutdown dates, again
Recently published in the Government Gazette, the communications minister has announced a new date for the shutdown of 2G and 3G mobile networks in South Africa – no later than 31 December 2027.

Exploring wireless connectivity in new eBook
STMicroelectronics has partnered with Mouser Electronics to produce a new eBook titled ‘Beyond the Wires: Exploring Bluetooth and LoRaWAN Connectivity’.