RAPDASA (Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa) is a non-profit organisation that strives to be the official platform for rapid product development in South Africa. We connect leading innovators, entrepreneurs, industry partners and academics through various community engaging events.
RAPDASA was established to create a community representing all facets of the Additive Manufacturing (AM) sector – from idea/concept, to design, prototype development into manufacturing and commercialization.
South Africa had a late start with Rapid Prototyping (RP) – the first system was installed in 1991. Up until 1994, only three systems were available in the country. With the active research participation of the CSIR and a number of universities, supported by technology transfer programmes and industry awareness workshops, the interest in RP technologies started to grow.
Internationally, RP grew to the extent that several country-based member organizations were formed, and an initiation meeting of the Global Alliance of RP Associations (GARPA) took place during the SME Rapid Conference in Dearborn, USA in 1998. South Africa was invited under the auspices of the Time Compression Technologies Centre (TCTC), and received an invitation to become a member of GARPA. A RAPDASA planning/launch meeting held at the University of Stellenbosch in 1999 culminated in the first international meeting being held in November 2000 at the CSIR, and the election of a management committee.
In the years that followed, the association has been instrumental in creating awareness of the potential of RP in South Africa. Apart from the annual conference, a number of open days and workshops have been held to expose the manufacturing sector to the latest AM developments and encourage interaction between the various role-players. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has played an active role in supporting RAPDASA through funding of workshops and conferences.
Since 2000, the annual conference has grown in size and importance and is recognised as a showcase for the AM sector in South Africa. International keynote speakers are invited to introduce the latest developments on the global front.
The exhibition, which runs concurrently with the conference, has also grown in size with international and local exhibitors showcasing the latest technology and applications. The first exhibition opened to the general public was held in 2017 at the International Conference Centre in Durban in 2017.
The conference also hosts a pre-conference seminar on Additive Manufacturing of Titanium sponsored by the DST.
A national Design Competition is run annually, opening a platform for designers to compete in a number of categories which require them to create designs which would not be possible to manufacture using conventional manufacturing technologies.
RAPDASA is represented at executive level for ASTM International on Committee F42. ASTM F42 is dedicated to Additive Manufacturing and has a number of technical sub committees focused on the development of standards for AM technologies, materials and processes. These standards play a preeminent role in all aspects of additive manufacturing.
RAPDASA is recognised as the official mouthpiece of the AM in South Africa and strives to promote Additive Manufacturing as a vibrant technology in the 4th industrial revolution.