CRPM celebrates 21 years

2018-10-03 06:02
Letsoalo Letsoalo, project engineer at the Central University of Technology’s Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (right), showing prototypes to delegates of the Botswana International University of Technology. From the left are Prof. Ochieng Aoyi, Prof. Edward Lungi and Dr Mmoloki Mangwala.

Letsoalo Letsoalo, project engineer at the Central University of Technology’s Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (right), showing prototypes to delegates of the Botswana International University of Technology. From the left are Prof. Ochieng Aoyi, Prof. Edward Lungi and Dr Mmoloki Mangwala.

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The Central University of Technology’s (CUT) Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (CRPM) celebrates 21 years of innovation and excellence in changing and touching the lives of ordinary people in South Africa.

Established in 1997 as a centre for commercial work and research using rapid prototyping, rapid manufacturing, rapid tooling and medical product development technologies, the centre currently has ten additive manufactu­ring (AM) machines which makes it one of the best equipped AM centres of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

The AM technologies opened the possibility to go directly from Compu­ter-Aided Design (CAD) to a physical prototype or model.

These prototypes are used by industrial product designers for form and function test, as well as final prototypes before tooling commences.

“CRPM is a world-renowned centre for its innovations, and the impact it is making on society. Thus CUT is gaining momentum in its drive to be reima­gined as a transformational university and model University of Technology in Africa”, said Prof. Henk de Jager, vice-chancellor and principal, commenting on the 21st anniversary of the CRPM on 18 September.

Celebration of this milestone and years of hard work, commitment and determination, coincided with launching the first Department of Science and Technology (DST) Innovation and Commercialisation of Additive Manufacturing Chair (Icam Chair).

De Jager stated that strong partnerships are needed to build external networks and internal cross-unit networks to generate ideas.

“You cannot take the university to the next level without partnerships. CUT is a university of the people and the region and has been forthcoming with encouraging idea generation and building strong external networks,” he said.

Taking the audience through the 21-year journey, Gerrie Booysen, director: CRPM, shared the impact made using 3D technology in positively changing the lives of people.

He presented some successful cases dating back to 2015 when it produced about 3 614 prototypes and how the centre has grown immensely, producing more than 13 000 components to date.

The centre was awarded with an international certification in 2016 and is the only manufacturer of titanium implants in the African continent, and the South Africa Research Chair Initiative (Sarchi) for medical product deve­lopment through additive manufactu­ring.

Booysen said the centre is looking for new ways and methods of doing things as they are currently developing the design of temporomandibular joints with cutting guides.

“In the past, we used to have just a fixed implant and now we will also have moving components, and this is our big research project,” said Booysen.

Jaco Hart, industry partner of CSIR, said the impact of additive manufactu­ring products and the involvement of CRPM was far-reaching in assisting them with producing Corono cameras and applauded CUT for their consistency and excellent service.

DST Icam Chair, under the leadership of Prof. Deon de Beer, comes in three years after the Sarchi launch by DST and the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

Led by another CUT professor, Ihar Yadroitsau, Sarchi is a great recognition for the university as a leader in medical product development in South Africa.

Sechaba Tsubella, acting director: advanced manufacturing technologies at DST, believes this technology has immense potential to create industries and opportunities for all our people.

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