impression 3D – le chemin de l’Afrique pour diriger la nouvelle révolution industrielle

3D printing – Africa’s way to lead the new industrial revolution

The number of 3D printing purchases in Africa will rise by 23 percent through 2017.
According to a recent study by the market research company The Freedonia Group, the demand for 3D printers and software will spike by 21 percent through 2017, reaching a value of $5bn. The majority of the sales will be in the United States (42 percent), Western Europe (25 percent) and Asia (23 percent). However, the same report predicts that the number of 3D printing purchases in Africa will also rise by 23 percent over the same period.
The lack of an established manufacturing sector means that most Africans rely on importing items like machine parts, consumables, household goods, tools and building materials. As 3D printing becomes more versatile, African nations can digitally manufacture such objects domestically and reduce dependency on costly imports. It will create an environmentally friendly ecosystem that doesn’t require factories, machinery, labor or capital. The savings, both direct and indirect, will afford many people the opportunity to lift themselves out of
Priority should be given to getting the culture of 3D printing into schools so that youth can become conversant with the technology and increase their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
In 2013, President Obama celebrated the return of manufacturing jobs back to the United States from Japan and Mexico by hailing 3D printing technology as offering the potential to resuscitate and revolutionise manufacturing in the country.
Various materials and processes are being used to print solid 3D objects: plastic resins, metals, wood fibre, carbon fiber, construction waste, desert sand, human tissue and many others. New materials, methods and combinations of materials and methods are being introduced to perfect the technology.
In order to remain economically competitive, Africa should accelerate the process of transitioning to high-value manufacturing by acquiring and developing capabilities in 3D printing technology. This transition cannot be realised by merely repeating what China has done, to relocate Chinese plants to Africa.
In particular, there is a fear that manufacturers of plastic-based products could be particularly vulnerable to the impact of 3D printing’s rise. Manufacturers who rely on demand from design entrepreneurs for prototypes and the eventual roll-out of finished products could also be vulnerable. If startups can print their own inventions, then they will not need to outsource the job to local manufacturers.
However, the majority of experts seem to agree that 3D printing does not have to compete with traditional manufacturing. In fact, many insist that there is little threat to conventional high volume manufacturing.
On the other hand, 3D printing could prove interesting competition for lower volume production manufacturing that also demands implementation of complex designs.