/ 1 November 2013

Leading the way in technology

Leading The Way In Technology

‘Additive manufacturing: Improving your world layer-by-layer” is this year’s Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa (Rapdasa) conference theme to be held in the Free State and hosted by the Central University of Technology’s (CUT) premier Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (CRPM).

It promises to deliver groundbreaking insights into the industry thanks to a bevy of leading keynote speakers and experts.

“We are welcoming leading thinkers in technology and innovation. They are coming together to examine how institutions can think and act differently and work towards finding methods of improved and cost-effective product development,” says Professor Henk De Jager, deputy vice chancellor for academic at CUT.

The conference has attracted participants from Belgium, Egypt, Germany, Norway, Poland and the US, and the calibre of both attendees and keynote speakers are superb.

For many, the conference represents an opportunity to interact with colleagues and to forge new alliances and look to new ways of driving change within the industry itself.

“Additive manufacturing is growing exponentially worldwide and this includes South Africa,” says Cornel de Jongh, biomedical engineer at the Leatt Corporation.

“I believe that hosting such a conference is the right step in opening up new industries and the ideas that come with this technology.”

Cornel de Jongh will be speaking on the Leatt-Brace case study and his analysis examines the process chain, including sport-specific injury modalities and statistics, and concept generation and design iterations.

His topic is an example of how, through additive manufacturing (AM), they have been able to improve their design life cycle in terms of time, cost and general efficiency.

Dr Christian Désagulier, space transportation and EADS material and processes expert at space company Astrium, is another keynote contributor at the conference.

His presentation centres around an Astrium project to build capacity in Africa for the space industry, focusing on additive layer manufacturing (ALM).

Through his discussion he will be examining the value in ALM in manufacturing and Astrium’s contributions to Africa within this arena through the company’s AWA (ALM with Africa) project launched in 2011.

“Astrium has been involved in ALM for satellite applications since 2007, and now the planned European Launcher where a lot of parts for the cryogenic, ambient and high temperature factors will be designed and prepared through ALM,” says Désagulier.

“Using ALM, where possible, can significantly contribute to the weight issues around space products — the orbital cost per gram is far higher than on Earth — and to the environment because it reduces the load on the mechanical industry, from the prototype up to the serial manufacturing.”

It is not hard to see why Désagulier’s speech will be a popular one for attendees, but no less so than that of Professor Jules Poukens, lecturer and researcher at the Biomed Research Institute of the University Hasselt and the University of Leuven in Belgium.

He is a cranio-maxillofacial surgeon at the Medical Centre Sittard/Heerlen in the Netherlands and has a list of achievements and accolades behind him.

He has dedicated a large part of his keynote speech to medical applications and believes that innovation and advanced technology can bring great benefits to people.

“CUT has a chair on medical product development by additive manufacturing and, to my knowledge, this is unique and sets both CUT and South Africa onto the world map,” says Poukens.

“This conference is providing me with a chance to really examine medical applications within this arena alongside other experts who share my passion for the field.”

Interesting discussions
Conference attendees can also look forward to a presentation on the considerations and challenges in the implementation of titanium metal additive manufacturing by Dr Kevin Slattery, division chief engineer in integrated logistics at Boeing.

He will be looking at the issues that have kept additive manufacturing from widespread use since the first implementation over a decade ago and how they can be successfully addressed to effect change and take advantage of the opportunities in the area of titanium structures and components.

The leader of the Titanium Technology Theme for CSIRO in Australia, John Barnes, will also be presenting a keynote at the event titled “E-Beam and cold spray advances in additive manufacturing”.

In addition, Professor Gideon Levy will be discussing “Additive manufacturing great opportunity and challenges supplementary to subtractive manufacturing process”.

This is just a glance at the impressive line-up at the Rapdasa conference and it is clear that CUT has gone all out to deliver as exciting an innovative an event as possible.

Other speakers include Robert Honiball, founder and chief executive of CustomMed, who will be discussing additive manufacturing in medical devices and how Africa is leading the way, Dr Cules van den Heever who will be examining the role of additive manufacturing in maxillofacial prosthodontics, and Doctor Terry Wohlers who is considered one of the most influential people in rapid product development and additive manufacturing.

“Rapdasa is one of the leading congresses on AM technology that can be compared to Rapid USA, ICAT Slovenia, Leiria Portugal, Rapid Prototyping Eindhoven, Solid Freeform and other international congresses,” says Poukens.

“It provides an impressive opportunity to meet with experts from CUT and overseas.”

For CUT the conference upholds its Vision 2020, which is based on five principles: innovation, impact and outcomes, socioeconomic development and entrepreneurship, and location and excellence.

The central theme focuses on how the university can contribute to socioeconomic development through quality social and technological innovations, and this is an integral part of the conference itself.

“CUT is passionate about new technology and innovation,” says De Jager.

“Innovation is anything but ‘business as usual’ and we need to think and act differently to really deliver on this ideal.

“There is a strong link between CUT’s Vision 2020 and the objectives of Rapdasa as the theme is applicable to CUT, the CRPM, South Africa and the global village as a whole.”

CUT’s involvement in the event has met with the approval of many of the speakers who have been impressed with the focus and dedication that they have shown.

“CUT is the leader in additive manufacturing technologies in South Africa and Africa and hosting this conference will further establish them as a leader in this field in Africa, and among the top in the world,” says de Jongh.

“I believe that through opening up and showcasing the tremendous possibilities within additive manufacturing, CUT is empowering the attendees of this conference to see what is possible and that we are, in fact, able to compete on the global stage, especially in terms of having access to additive manufacturing technology which currently drives innovation like little else can.

“I am keen to see how innovation has progressed subsequent to additive manufacturing going mainstream and I am looking forward to this conference tremendously.”

For Désagulier Rapdasa 2013 is a chance to meet CUT representatives and to exchange ideas and forge links for potential South African partnerships that can support the progress in South and West Africa.

“It is important for Astrium to be at the event considering the relevance of this programme dedicated to additive layer manufacturing in general as well as its pragmatic orientation,” he adds.

“This conference allows me to meet with my South African partners and to share the huge changes that potentially can influence South African development.”

Advancing technology
Désagulier’s thoughts echo those of all who are taking part at the 14th annual Rapdasa conference as additive manufacturing has seen remarkable growth over the years.

Advances in equipment and materials have made occurred across the board, from the older additive manufacturing technologies of stereolithography, laser sintering and fused deposition modelling to the new 3D printing technologies.

The landscape is undergoing dramatic changes as it adapts to new ideas and solutions and expands into new markets.

Today there is more scope for innovation and development than ever before, and those who set foot on Free State soil for this event will soon be examining how best to use these to further improve the quality of life for people across the globe.

“The challenges and opportunities that surround additive manufacturing are experienced all over the world and I am confident that by the end of this conference we will be able to identify benefits in our work together that will apply individually and collectively to product development and additive manufacturing,” says De Jager.

“I have no doubt that the richness and diversity of expertise and opinions at the conference will deliver extremely valuable insight that will take this industry even further.”

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