3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that has been described as a game-changer in manufacturing and consequently, the world economy. The availability of funding has often dictated that the research and development of innovations such as 3D technology is conducted in developed countries. In the last decade or so, however, we have seen a shift in that model as more innovations are exported from Africa to the world. To zero in closer home, perhaps the most famous Kenyan “tech” exports have been MPesa, BRCK, and Ushahidi. Locally made 3D printers might be next.
AB3D is a young Kenyan company whose name is an abbreviation of “African Born 3D Printing”. Their vision is to be the one-stop-shop for all 3D printing and rapid prototyping needs; from the sale of printers and 3D printing filament, 3D printing services as well as offering training on the technology. They hope to eventually get their printers to every school in Kenya for them to be used as a teaching aid and through this create jobs, alleviate poverty as well as help clean the environment. This makes a solid case for the role of Engineering in development outside of the mainstream infrastructure and energy. Their concept effortlessly demonstrates the relation between technology, education, youth employment and environmental conservation.
The printing filament is made from recycled PET plastic waste. AB3D are working with a Dandora-based community group who will be supplying the plastic waste which will ensure a local Eco-system. This supports the running and maintenance of 3D printers in Nairobi as a viable social venture. Currently, the available imported 3D printers in Nairobi have to outsource maintenance and repair which implies waiting for weeks to import replacement parts. Therefore, by relying on local production, AB3D aims to relieve this burden significantly.
NOTE: AB3D are looking for beta customers who can get the printers at a subsided price on condition that they work with them to improve it by giving them feedback. They promise that version 2 of the printer will not only look much better but also weigh less. For more information please contact: Roy Ombatti (Co-founder and CEO) - firstname.lastname@example.org. All the IP rights in this article are owned by AB3D.