Selina Rapulane 22 November 2022

Dr Nelana: DVC Research Innovation Commercialization and Internationalization giving an address at the RAPDASA Conference

The Vaal University of Technology (VUT)’s Technology Transfer and Innovation (TTI) left a resounding mark at the Rapid Product Development Association in South Africa (RAPDASA)’s 23rd Annual International Conference held on 11 November in Cape Town, with its immense contribution of research and innovation.

Under the theme: ‘Digital technology in production development’, this year’s RAPDASA conference coincided with the 15th Robotics and Mechatronics (RobMech), the 33rd Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA) and the 3rd South African Advanced Materials Initiative (CoSAAMI) conferences.

The event brought together experts from industry, academics and students in additive manufacturing, materials engineering, rapid product development, electrical engineering, pattern recognition, robotics and mechatronics. The platform was a platform to share research, build networks and expand the society that has been built by the three conferences.

As VUT’s TTI is involved with product development and process improvement using digital technology, its attendance to the conference was to create beneficial networks that will promote discussions and collaborations on key aspects of research and innovation in VUT. Additionally, it was to enhance the institution’s research and innovation’s profile amongst its key stakeholders to encourage open innovation.

As per the notion that conference presentations provide great opportunities for individuals to communicate their research to a wide and interested audience, get feedback on their work and gain knowledge from other presenters, Mr Francois du Rand: VUT Laboratory Technician, who is actively involved in research in the field of Additive Manufacturing Quality Control, presented on: Powder Bed Defects Classification: An industry perspective”, which was to position VUT within the RAPDASA space.

Mr du Rand’s research focused on classifying a variety of defects, which may be initiated during the powder bed Additive Manufacturing according to their position and type. These defects may compromise the reputability, precision, and resulting mechanical properties of the final part.

Later, during the conference, four of the VUT staff and researchers, who were seconded in the Directional Composites through Manufacturing Innovation (DiCOMI) project, which focused on Directional Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (DFRP) materials and combining different manufacturing techniques into a unique and innovative hybrid system, presented their posters which summarised their research concisely and generated a lot of discussions.

The posters communicated their research and understanding of the following topics in a brief and visually engaging format:

  1. Ms Tsholofelo Nkaiseng: Material characterization of 3D printed fiber reinforced polymer composites in ambient environments.
  2. Mr Ngazibini Mayila: Comparative investigation to determine the mechanical properties of carbon-reinforced polymers and metal alloys.
  3. Ms Oriel Mhlongo: Experimental characterization and finite element modelling of carbon fiber-reinforced composites produced on Mark-forged and 5-axismaker
  4. Ms Yvonne Shabanga: Investigating the effect of process parameters on carbon fiber reinforced polyamide for fused deposition modelling.

Post their presentations, the researchers had one-on-one discussions with peers who had vested interest in their work – something they described as a great opportunity for them to start building a network of future collaborations.

Dr Speech Nelana: Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation, Commercialization and Internationalization at VUT, gave an address on behalf of VUT, during the conference gala dinner.  “VUT has been leading in this field, hence this commitment that we have shown by continuing to sponsor the conference to some extent. We have derived from our affiliation to this association as the VUT tremendous benefits. It offers a fountain of knowledge from which we continually learn from. This association has and continue to contribute positively to our development, both directly and indirectly and has over the years aided towards our growth as an institution as well as knowledge expansion in many areas, particularly within the Additive Manufacturing sphere”, commented Dr Nelana.

The conference offered opportunities for participants from industry, R&D institutions, academia, government and innovation, to connect and collaborate to grow the next generation of advanced manufacturing enterprises across the continent.