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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X

J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.111 n.3 Johannesburg  2011




Establishment of rapid prototyping/additive manufacturing in South Africa



D.J. de Beer

Vaal University of Technology




South Africa had a late start with rapid prototyping (RP), with the first system being available in 1991. Up to 1994 only three systems were available in SA. Through active research participation from the CSIR and a number of universities, supported by technology transfer programmes and industry awareness workshops, adoption of RP technologies started to grow. Internationally, RP grew to the extent that several country-based member organizations were formed, and an initiation meeting of the Global Alliance of RP Associations (GARPA) took place during the SME Rapid Conference in Dearborn, USA in 1998. South Africa (SA) was invited under the auspices of the Time Compression Technologies Centre (TCTC) launched by the CSIR, and received an invitation to become a member of GARPA through the launch of a national, inclusive organization. The latter gave rise to a RAPDASA planning/launch meeting held at the University of Stellenbosch, which culminated in the first RAPDASA international conference held in November 2000 at the CSIR, and the election of a first RAPDASA management committee, also at the 1st AGM held during the conference. RAPDASA has been a pillar of strength since then, with an annual international conference being presented. As South Africa's RP awareness grew through the RAPDASA and independent activities, so did the availability of RP platforms in SA. SA also became a benchmark for other countries/late adopters to follow, as slowly a position of following became a position of leading through innovative applications. The paper highlights SA's development approach and history, together with the discussion of case studies in various fields. Contribution to the light metals industry will also be discussed.

Keywords: Rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing, product design, rapid tooling, rapid manufacturing, medical product development



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