Pretoria firm set to produce 3D designs

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Copy of Copy of PN 3D factory1292 [2]

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Designs created using 3D printing technology at the launch of a 3D printing studio, in Pretoria's Innovative Hub. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Pretoria - New, cutting edge technology in three-dimensional printing and manufacturing is set to become all the rage.

Now Pretoria innovation outfit Innoworxx is ready to produce designs using this new method of fast production.

Worldwide, the new technology has benefited all sectors, even health care, where items such as prosthetic limbs – and faces for transplants – have been produced.

On Wednesday, it was hailed for breaking through barriers by being able to produce complicated prototypes. These included projects as complicated as buildings and as small as a reproduction of a favourite pair of sunglasses that have broken.

“From the 3D produced prototype of a building you can see how the shadows fall around a building at certain times of the day – also, what a building looks like with its lights on and off,” the company’s operations manager Denton Rodgers said.

The hi-tech equipment could produce any and all objects, he said, in whatever scale was decided on by the client, using a scanner that was hand-held or high-precision.

The equipment – three pieces costing in the region of R250 000 to set up – goes beyond producing models of buildings and shoes by translating plans into houses and even vehicles, Rodgers said. “We can produce the prototype of an unborn foetus from the 3D scans produced by ultrasound equipment.”

So accurate was the equipment that the prototype would be exactly what the scan picked up during the ultrasound.

Rodgers was speaking at the launch of the 3D printing studio and equipment, set up at the Innovative Hub.

He and his colleagues said 3D technology was the future.

Chief executive Isaiah Engelbrecht said his company believed in limitless growth, and the offshoots of 3D technology were endless. “For instance, the country would be able to retain most of the raw material we export, with 3D manufacturing they can be converted into products and value for the country.”

This technology would bring together roleplayers in production – designers, manufacturers, engineers, health practitioners and artists who would together produce from 3D, he said.

The methods to generate prototypes included sketching an image from an object or idea brought in by a client or designed in consultation; or objects and people could be scanned, images fed into the printer, and prototypes developed.

Industrial design intern Collen Msimango said he was designing a cover for prosthetic blades used by people who did not have their lower legs, to make the end look like a foot. “I am designing that for a client.”

The 3D printing and manufacturing provided multiple opportunities. Being able to work on ideas from concept to design and producing them was a designers’ dream. - Pretoria News

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