VUT makes a mark at the much sought-after annual rapid product development conference in South Africa

By: Selina Rapulane – 10 November 2023

The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) made its mark at the Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa (RAPDASA)’s 24th Annual International Conference held from 30 October – 02 November 2023 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria, South Africa under the theme: Advanced Manufacturing Beyond Borders.

VUT was proudly represented by the Technology Station for Materials and Processing Technologies (TSMPT) within the University’s Technology Transfer and Innovation (TTI) – a strategic technology hub in the Southern Gauteng region, based in Sebokeng, Vaal. The hub is supported by a multi-disciplinary skilled workforce and boasts world class technology programmes in Advanced Manufacturing, all geared to support industrialisation and job creation.

The conference, which embraces the complete product development value chain, starting from idea/concept, to design, prototype development into manufacturing and commercialization, was joined by the 16th Robotics and Mechatronics (RobMech), the 34th Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA) and the 4th Advanced Materials Initiative (AMI) conferences.

The 2023 RAPDASA-RobMech-PRASA-AMI conference and exhibition brought together experts from industry, and development institutions, academia and students in additive manufacturing, materials engineering, rapid product development, pattern recognition, robotics and mechatronics. Conference delegates presented their research, discussed networking opportunities and expanded their fraternity that has been built by the previous conferences.

The VUT TSMPT Team that had attended the conference managed to engage themselves in discussions that promoted collaborations that will later assist in the growth of the next generation of advanced manufacturing enterprises across the African continent.

According to Ms Pako Magagane, a Designer at VUT TSMPT, the conference provided valuable insights into the field of Advanced AM, emphasizing the importance of collaboration. She added that during the four-day conference, several recommendations emerged that can significantly impact the future of their Idea to Product Lab, such as leveraging CAD software to address design challenges in additive manufacturing, especially those related to the technologies (SLS, Binder jetting and FDM) available at our Technology Station.

Mr George Fumba, AM Team Leader also mentioned that the conference was educative, full of knowledge and he looks forward to partnerships with other industries and universities. This sentiment was echoed by colleague, Mr Rudiger Schreiner who added that he appreciated seeing different technologies from the ones he is used to, as well as technologies which may aid in improving their production in terms of post processing times on powder-based materials, plastics combines with carbon fibre to strengthen density of materials.

During the Gala Dinner, Dr Simphiwe Speech Nelana, VUT Acting Vice Chancellor and Principal said VUT is a proud sponsor of the RAPDASA Conference. “We always look forward to this platform as it helps us connect with leading innovators, entrepreneurs, industry partners and academics through various community engaging events that leads to the growth of our business,” he said. He added that 3D printing is a technology that can provide many opportunities and challenges for education. “I believe that we should involve our own communities in this platform to transfer our knowledge in AM. It can help develop their creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills to prepare them for the future of work and society”.

The exhibition, ran concurrently with the conference, where VUT TSMPT showcased their latest technology and applications in AM.

RAPDASA is recognised as the official mouthpiece of the AM in South Africa and strives to promote Additive Manufacturing as a vibrant technology in the 4th industrial revolution.