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Additive Manufacturing (AM) / Rapid prototyping (RP) has been active in South Africa for 21 years now, and the market has grown from a single 3D Systems SLA 250 in 1991, to approximately 5700 machines in 2018. As per the graph shown below, it is evident that system sales experienced a considerable growth in the last two years.
Approximately 94% of all machines sold in SA are in the low cost category (< USD 5000). Whilst this represents a staggering majority of printers, it is worth noting that on an investment basis this would represent a 50:50 basis, i.e. on a cost of low-end vs. high-end (> USD 5000).
A further analysis shows that industry ownership now is significantly higher than that of research and development institution ownership (university / science institutions). Furthermore, only approximately two-thirds of universities in South Africa have AM equipment in-house, whilst approximately a quarter of these pursue Additive Manufacturing as a research field.
The current drive/surge in sales is driven by the low-priced entry level systems, available from ZAR 10 000 to ZAR 50 000. Whilst these systems have limitations, they allow small companies, universities, schools and individuals a starting point in Additive Manufacturing. The general opinion is that once these entities have reached a point of satisfaction from a user and machine capability point of view high-end machines are considered, rather than investing into more low-end printers.
The following OEMs sell machines in South Africa, the majority being represented by dedicated agents or resellers:
- 3D Systems (Inc BFB)
- Sol idscape