NMMU hosts largest 3D printer in Africa

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) is home to the largest 3D-printer in Africa. The five-metre tall printer with an ability to print enormous structures across a wide array of transdisciplinary applications is the result of the efforts of a team of student engineers and their lecturers.

The project, jointly managed by the Renewable Energy Research Group and eNtsa has elicited interest from across the University and industry.

The School of Built Environment has even enquired into the use of a modified version of the printer for building houses using concrete. In China, complete concrete houses, which are stable for outdoor use, have successfully been printed by 3D printers.

The printer, which has a base of roughly 1,3m square, uses PLA (polyactic acid), a plastic substance similar to that used by hot glue guns, to print the plugs. These are made into moulds to make parts.

The printer can also be used to print big moulds for metal casting for machinery.

The design of this printer and most of its assembly was conducted by recently qualified master’s student Timothy Momsen.