The Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa (RAPDASA) proudly announced details of the highly anticipated 20th Annual International Conference. The conference will take place from the 6th to the 8th of November 2019, and will be hosted by the Central University of Technology (CUT) in the Free State. Held at Emoya Estate in Bloemfontein. This year’s conference serves as a significant reminder of RAPDASA’s success and growth within the world of Additive Manufacturing (AM), or 3D Printing as it is commonly known in South Africa. RAPDASA is set to bring the future of manufacturing, layer by layer, to their impressive programme for the 20th Annual International Conference. With emphasis on the growth of industry involvement to collaborate, research, and develop within the 3D printing industry, the theme for this year’s conference is: Creating the Future of Manufacturing – Layer by Layer, with its sub-theme: Establishing the 3D Printing Process Chain.

During the three-day conference, delegates will gain insight into the latest developments in the industry presented by renowned world experts. Speakers included are Dr. Terry Wohlers from the U.S.A, Prof. Ian Gibson from The Netherlands, Prof. Alain Bernard from France, Prof. Nataliya Kazantseva from Russia, and Prof. Frank Brückner from Germany, to name a few. In addition, the conference provides an international platform for the South African AM community to showcase the cutting-edge work carried out in this country. The conference will cover sectors such as Aerospace, Medical and Bio-medical, Automotive, Sport and Leisure, as well as Architecture. Led by prominent invited speakers in the field, RAPDASA 2019 will also have a special track focusing on Biomimetic Engineering for AM, which focuses on realizing the full potential of additive manufacturing through mimicking nature.

Since RAPDASA 2000, the conference has seen steady attendance growth from 33 academia only, to 300 attendees from industry, government, and universities. Former RAPDASA chairperson, Prof. Willie du Preez reflects on his initial vision for the event and explains that “from the beginning, the intention was to involve industry, networking, and promoting more efficient product development and transferring this understanding to the industry”. Twenty years later, it is evident that this vision has indeed manifested when looking at conference attendance growth, rich diversity of attendees, and innovative industry experts both international and local. Likewise, the conference has provided evolutionary insights to the future of AM and of RAPDASA itself. Prof. du Preez also mentions that the establishment of RAPDASA was “through a voluntary professional organization to reach out to people across the country, particularly in industries”. 

Current RAPDASA chairman, Prof. André van der Merwe, comments on the future of RAPDASA and explains that “the future is industry-focussed while aligning with industry steer research and training towards valorisation”. Furthermore, he adds that the technology available today has matured to such an extent that the focus is now on commercialisation. “Machines and processes are now able to produce multiples of custom products with skilled engineers who are able to completely understand the intricacies of design for additive manufacturing”. Prof. van der Merwe envisions that the next step for the future of RAPDASA is to “train skilled technicians to meet market demand developing globally”.

The world of AM has evolved from a prototyping technology (in the 1990s) into the fully-fledged manufacturing technology which it is today, where just about anything from aerospace parts to fashion and consumer goods can be manufactured. The endless possibility of AM technology has proved itself in aiding designers and engineers to achieve complexity in design and manufacturing. RAPDASA invites participants from international product development communities, academia, national R&D and educational institutions, designers and toolmakers to attend and participate in the 20th Annual International Conference. The RAPDASA exhibition promises to be a highlight where the latest AM technology will be showcased.

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