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With More Awareness Additive Manufacturing Could be a Lifesaver for Many African States

3D printing is a technology that’s forecast to change the world. Already several fortune 500 companies – such as Siemens, General Electric, and Boeing – have invested in it. In more developed countries, 3D printing is already being introduced into design work flows by several manufacturing giants. However, in less developed countries like Nigeria, little is known about vast aspects of the technology even in academic institutions. 3D printing mimics regular paper printing where a computer-aided designed part is sent to a printer for direct manufacture. Technically, this involves the digital data of a computer aided 3D model design being sent to the printer which then produces the object layer-by-layer. The process enables the conversion of almost any virtual object into real parts. In 2017, Nigerian Foundries Limited, one of the leading ferrous foundries in Africa bought the largest 3D printer in West Africa from Titan Robotics. This printer is used to speed up the creation of a range of patterns needed for moulding and casting clients’ products. But this is a rare example in the country. Aside from awareness and a deficit in skills, adopting 3D printing has faced another major hurdle in Nigeria – the reliance on imports. Nigeria’s growing reliance on imported goods has hindered local content development and in turn hindered localised manufacturing. Only a few well-established manufacturing companies are able to compete with importers.