Additive manufacturing (AM), better known as 3D printing, as the catalyst in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, will be the focal point at the Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa conference held at Emoya Estate in Bloemfontein from today (06/11) to Friday (08/11). The Central University of Technology plays host for the 20th international conference at which experts will share ideas on global innovation and design. The theme is “Creating the Future of Manufacturing – Layer by Layer”.Dan Maritz, CUT spokesperson, says experts are expected to cover various aspects on innovations to influence the fourth industrial revolution. Industries such as aerospace, medical and bio-medical, automotive, sport and leisure, and architecture are looked at. The conference has grown in international stature over the past 20 years and will place South Africa at the centre stage of global innovation and design. Maritz says the conference is also an opportunity for the South African AM community to showcase its cutting-edge work. “It brings a sterling line-up of experts and many opportunities for participants from industry, academia and government to share knowledge and meet with world experts in this field.”Maritz says the decision that CUT should host the conference, links with the university’s accredited stature, achievements and leading role in AM through the Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (CRPM).The vital role AM plays in Medical Product Development, has become clear when CRPM developed pre-operative models of state hospital patients in the country to assist surgeons to plan the complicated surgery down to the finest detail. Over the past ten years, the CUT’s primary focus has been on AM of patient-specific implants and devices, which led to the first SA 3D-printed hemi-mandible implant in 2014, says Maritz.In 2016, the CRPM received ISO 13485 certification for design and manufacturing of patient-specific titanium implants and nylon cutting/drill guides linked to 3D printing; making it the first establishment to obtain this certification in Africa. Maritz said the highlights attained through the CRPM unit include 60 successful AM cases, including full- and hemi-maxilla implants.