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Business & Economy

Monday, 19 May 2008 11:34

3D Printing - A Relatively New Technology in SA

{pp}3D printing is a relatively new technology here in South Africa. Simply put, it’s a physical version of a CAD file – thin slices built one on top of the other using various processes.

Local company, Custom3D, is headed by Henri du Toit whose background in mechanical engineering and research and development allows him to offer input into the projects he is involved in. This, along with his superior customer service ethic has ensured that the business is experiencing tremendous growth. Henri often works around the clock to ensure that he meets his clients’ deadlines.

“If a client needs his part by a specific time, then we have to deliver!” laughs du Toit. The company has found success in many different industries, “The foundry and automotive industries have embraced the technology with open arms – their processes have been streamlined with massive time, labour and cost cutting advantages,” says du Toit. Cape based foundry, CME, has seen the benefits of using Custom3D and the 3D printer firsthand.

“The pattern making process tends to be time consuming and fairly expensive. Once we had evaluated the benefits of using prototypes made by Custom3D’s new method we decided to go ahead,” explains Duncan McClelland, Technical Manager at CME.

The built industry benefits greatly from the ability to produce 3D parts directly from computer design data. - it produces models quickly and inexpensively - can communicate high definition detail and surface finishes - 3D printers print directly from a CAD file - show a finished product to the client before the work has begun Almost every architect’s office has a handcrafted scaled model of a big project, usually under Plexiglass. These models take many, many hours to make.

Today, thanks to the technology, the architect can get a 3D model in less than a week. “The 3D model helps the architect/engineer to sell his vision to the client and the more detailed and complex the project, the greater the advantage of having the 3D model. We have used the models in several of our presentations and the response has been fantastic,” says Nik Moroff, MD of engineering consultancy firm Moroff & Kuhne, who makes use of 3D printing regularly.

Du Toit says that their rapid prototyping 3D printer has seamless interfaces with a large number of software formats, making it versatile and user friendly. Custom3D is also involved in conceptual modelling for design verification, product development, from design to the physical parts; reverse engineering, from a part to a CAD model and rapid tooling, where low production runs in polyurethane using rapid and low cost tooling, can be produced.

Du Toit adds, “Speed in product development has become a critical factor for success and this is where rapid prototyping and Custom3D helps, by offering a fast professional and confidential service.” Custom3D is also involved with the Institute of Inventors and Innovators whereby they provide affordable 3D printing services to its members. The Institute was established in the early 1970’s and assists inventors in the journey of taking their ideas from concept to product. The Institute offers Toolkits that assist the inventors in taking many of the necessary steps in obtaining patent and design protection for themselves. Paulo Lopes of MyPatent, which offers toolkits, templates and workshops to the Institute’s members explains, “The R&D tax incentive provision (s11D) was introduced into our Income Tax Act in November 2006.

The incentive provides a taxpayer with a 150% deduction in respect of expenditure relating to R&D activities within South Africa.” “Presuming that an inventor is a sole proprietor, for every R100 spent on R&D, he could potentially claim R60 back from SARS. This includes expenditure on product design and prototyping where the product is protectable by patent or functional design.

This incentive is great news for local inventors and innovators and we are happy to be contributing to the increase in the number of inventions patented in South Africa!” concludes du Toit.

Contact Information:
Custom3D Rapid Prototyping
Henri du Toit
Tel: 021 851 7765
Fax: 021 851 7765
EMail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Institute of Inventors & Innovators
Matt Moolman
082 907 6587

My Patent
Paulo Lopes
083 233 4582

Issued by:
Fiona Richardson
T 021 851 1514
F 021 852 2515
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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