/ 1 November 2013

A layered conference

CRPM staff members exhibiting titanium manufactured parts.
CRPM staff members exhibiting titanium manufactured parts. (supplied)

The 14th annual international Rapdasa 2013 conference in additive manufacturing is running from October 29 to November 1 2013. The event promises a sterling line-up of keynote speakers from across the globe.

In addition, it presents opportunities for participants from industry, research and development institutions, academia and government to meet with world experts and explore new themes and ideas in a forum that is as inspirational as it is forward thinking.

The 14th annual conference has the theme of: “Additive Manufacturing (AM) — Improving your World Layer-by-Layer” and will be examining all the factors that influence this theme within the additive manufacturing industry.

It also offers a chance for the South African AM community to showcase the cutting-edge work that is being carried out and designed in the country.

The conference is being hosted by the Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (CRPM) at the Central University of Technology (CUT) in the Free State, and is a huge coup for this world-class development centre of educational excellence.

“The CRPM is wholly focused on the role of additive manufacturing in South Africa and beyond, and the team is dedicated to providing a high level of education, support, training and technology to students and experts alike,” says Gerri Booysen, director of the CRPM.

“Hosting this conference is a huge honour for both the centre and the university and it will bring many superb opportunities for our students, staff and the university.

"This is a fantastic chance for us to work with some of the brightest minds in the business and we are extremely pleased that we were chosen as hosts for this event.”

Innovative technology
Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, has matured from a prototype technology in the 1990s to a fully-fledged manufacturing technology that is able to achieve astonishing results today.

Many designs created by additive manufacturing are used as final products in aerospace, automotive, medical and consumer product industries and its ubiquity is what makes it so extraordinary.

Rapid Prototyping (RP) is defined by Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa (Rapdasa) as the “transformation of a concept in CAD format into a physical 3D object in the shortest possible time, without human intervention in the process.”

These technologies combine to deliver an exact point-to-point representation of a 3D model on a computer and allow users to reproduce any external or internal geometry.

It is fiendishly clever and an incredibly exciting field to be a part of as technology advancements increase at an astonishing rate.

“This technology has enormous power and the ability to truly transform many industries,” says Professor Henk de Jager at CUT. “It is one of the best solutions available for product designers at the moment.

“It gives them the ability to take a virtual design or idea and make it into an actual product in just a few days.

“They can then use this to determine flaws, make improvements or even find alternative uses. It is an impressive technology that has enormous potential, especially within developing countries.”

At the Rapdasa conference the keynotes and events will cover some of the most important sectors in AM. These include aerospace, medical and bio-medical, automotive, sport and leisure and architecture.

Approximately 130 delegates are expected to attend the conference and the speakers come from countries as far afield as Poland, Germany, UK, Australia, New Zealand and the US.

Some of the names that stand out include Doctor Kevin Slattery from Boeing in the US, Professor Jules Poukens from the University of Hasselt in Belgium and Professor Gideon Levy from Switzerland.

“We are incredibly pleased to have such well-known experts attend the event here at the Golden Gate Hotel,” says de Jager.

“Many of these speakers have worked in this industry for years and are very well respected within their areas of expertise.

“It provides us all with an opportunity to network and learn from one another which is invaluable.”

Insightful topics
Attendees will be able to choose from a range of sessions, some of which will run parallel to one another.

It will certainly be a difficult decision for many as the speakers are all of such high quality and the topics all current and insightful.

The keynote addresses will be given by Professor Jules Poukens, Doctor Cules van den Heever, Robert Honiball, Professor Gideon Levy, Professor John Barnes, Terry Wohlers, Doctor Kevin Slattery, Doctor Christian Desagulier and Cornel de Jongh. Booysen, will be closing the conference at the end of the third day.

CUT is a proud platinum sponsor of the event because it represents an important part of their educational curriculum.

The organising committee consists of leading members of CUT as well as Garth Williams, as a representative from the South African government.

In addition, the conference highlights the value of the courses offered by CUT with regards to science and technology, specifically within the additive manufacturing arena.

Many of the university’s lecturers are speaking at the event, including Professor Henk de Jager who is providing the welcome and opening address.

“The CRPM at CUT will be hosting the conference because it forms an integral part of the ideology and goals for this centre,” says de Jager.

“The conference offers an opportunity for the CRPM to forge new relationships, learn new techniques and highlight our country’s abilities within the additive manufacturing arena.

“We also appreciate the chance to work more closely with Rapdasa to promote the use of these technologies in South Africa.”

Rapdasa in South Africa
The association was officially launched in 2000 and, in the thirteen years since its inception, the organisation has worked hard to uphold its mandate — to become a government-recognised industry that creates strategic links between academia, science councils and industry.

The organisation was started by volunteers and is driven by people who have a passion for the innovative product development that this represents.

Through the efforts of Rapdasa and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and a number of universities, such as CUT, the adoption of RP technologies has grown substantially in South Africa.

As awareness has grown, South Africa has become a benchmark for other countries, leading the way through inspired applications and developments in the industry.

The annual Rapdasa conference first started in 2000 as a platform for researchers and practitioners to share their knowledge and experience with others and it has benefitted from international participation from the outset.

Today it is seen as a premier event where industry experts network with one another to form collaborative partnerships and exciting projects.

The event underpins the ethos and mandate of Rapdasa in that it inspires diversity, change and development for all, and certainly boasts an increasingly impressive list of speakers and topics that remain on trend and aware of the issues that face the industry today.

This article forms part of a supplement paid for by Central University of Technology. Contents and photographs were supplied and signed off by the institution