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‘Nigeria can save N2tr yearly on spare parts imports via 3D printing’

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A machine part being moulded through 3D printer. Source: Industry Today

Stakeholders have advocated increased adoption of 3D printing in the country to reduce dependence on importation. They noted that the technology can help the country save over N2 trillion expended on spare part importation yearly

By developing capacity and deploying 3D technology skills and designs in manufacturing over the next 10 years, the stakeholders added that the nation can save about N30 trillion, create 100,000 new jobs and increase the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 30 per cent.

Speaking at a webinar organised by the Chamber’s Science, Energy and Technology Committee themed ‘3D Technology: An Emerging Business Revolution’, the LCCI President, Toki Mabogunje, noted that the application of 3D printing in the manufacturing sector could spur rapid growth within the sector and hence an increase in Nigeria’s manufacturing GDP contribution as well as other sectors of the economy.

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According to her, the growth of 3D printing in Nigeria is expected to impact, not only manufacturing but also the education sector, adding that the technology brings to light a set of skills lacking in the Nigerian industrial setting and the opportunity for new teaching practices in science and engineering programs within our tertiary institutions.

“The emergence of 3D printing technology has the potential to transform businesses, geographical challenges, and entire supply chains. With less time to design and manufacture products; with minimum need for warehouses for inventory; with spare parts printed on demand; evidently, a great leap in our industrialization transformation is imminent”, she added.

Managing Director, Kawai Technologies Ltd and Chairman, LCCI Power Sector Group, Akinbo Akin-Olugbade stated that the 3D technology has come of age and this enhanced productivity.

“3D technology has moved from plastics, especially in the production of prototypes to new materials like metals, steel, bronze and bio-materials to produce parts needed in industries and several sectors. This offers Nigeria the opportunity to leverage business opportunities in terms of local production. Production of face shields in the course of the pandemic was done using 3D printers. Installation of 3D printers in factories has helped many firms to reduce downtime and waiting time for spare parts to be imported into the country”, Akinbo added.

On his part, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Innovation & Technology, Olatubosun Alake, highlighted the State’s strategy to embrace technology to solve its problems.

According to him, smart manufacturing has to be encouraged to ensure that data and computer-aided integration drive the production process; that is, a situation where parts are inter-operable.

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“We are encouraging young and smart engineers to bring their solutions to the table. One of such is the smart manufacturing hackathon to encourage local production and parts for electricity meters. A big part of modular manufacturing has to do with arts and design.

“We want the private sector to drive recycling and smart production initiatives supported by the State. We have received proposals on how to turn PET bottles to different solutions beneficial to the State. We are looking beyond funding to the circular economy agenda, especially as it relates to climate change”, he added.

Managing Partner, Stampar 3D Ltd, Akinwole Akinpelu, while explaining the process of 3D printing, said that the worldwide 3D printing industry forecast recorded a rocketing growth of over $20 billion as against the projected $9 billion in 2020.

Akinpelu stressed that additive manufacturing was not aimed at competing with manufacturing but to add value to the manufacturing processes and reduce turnaround time.

He added that the application of 3D technology to the nation’s education process from a tender age would help simplify otherwise difficult to comprehend subjects and learning.

“There is no sector or industry that 3D technology is not useful in; be it education, engineering, housing, printing and manufacturing. The manufacturing process includes the forming, joining and subtractive processes. What 3D technology does is that it adds as an additive manufacturing process to give better results to the sector,” he said.

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Chief Executive Officer, Generative CAD Services, Felix Amaefula, noted that Nigeria spent over two trillion naira yearly importing tools and equipment which were being made possible by 3D designs.

Amaefula listed the challenges to scaling additive manufacturing in Nigeria to include low investment funding, limited machine capacity, low industry adoption, few experts and low collaboration between key experts and specialists.

He said that career opportunities in additive manufacturing included engineering, fashion, software developers, materials scientists, technicians, sales, marketing, education, writing, among others.

“The benefits of additive manufacturing are numerous, and the major benefits include faster production, unlimited shapes and geometry, very low start-up costs, and lack of material wastage.

“We also look for synergy between specialists, experts in both private and public sectors to drive this automation and improve the manufacturing processes,” he said.

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