Engineering is transforming Kenya into an innovative hub of new technologies that are both helping the poorest of the poor and assisting the growth of the business sector.
A startup from the Penn State College of Engineering, Kijenzi, has been training Kenyans in the art of 3D printing. The startup also helps address several key issues encountered in the rural medical facilities in Kenya.
In Kenya, clinics are being faced with many issues like outdated machinery, unrefined supply chains, and limited access to equipment they need to ensure a healthy environment for patients. On Kijenzi’s website they explain how their 3D printers work:
“At the most basic level, 3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing - the process of adding material to a product. The printers used by MK take computer-generated 3D models and, with a series of programs, translate the models into a form readable by the printer. With this formatted file, the printer can then use fused deposition modelling (laying down many thin layers of material, in this case plastic filament) to actualize the model. With this process, a huge variety of products can be generated, printed in many materials, and from infinite designs.”
The useful element of Kijenzi’s 3D printers is that it can use a versatile PLA plastic filament. This certain type of filament can be made up of recycled plastics as well. Thus, collected and recycled plastic in Kenya could make up filaments that can be changed into new products by 3D printers in the country.
The printer itself is put together by Kijenzi, and is fabricated out of affordable but durable materials. The printer can produce “simple knobs and brackets needed for maintaining appliances and machinery to unique application medical items”, Kijenzi says. It can also print frames for bifocals, hearing apparatuses and more.
Entrepreneurship & Business
Hobbyists have taken up 3D printing globally, but entrepreneurs have also started opening their doors to the public offering to print items customers want as well. A 3D printing service in Nairobi named Objet Kenya is a 3D printing service provider showing Kenyans what is possible in the 3D printing industry.
Farai Mashambanhaka, who worked with Objet Kenya, wrote in 3DPrint.com:
“There are several other companies offering 3D printing services in Kenya and the country has a great entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. This has made 3D printing a very sensible and lovable technology and if there is something that fires it all: it is the Kenyan will provide homegrown solutions.”
Another 3D printing service provider in Kenya is Ultra Red Technologies. They print ‘customized canopies for wildlife exploration vehicles’. They are also printing parts for solar powered desalination devices that will provide clean, purified water for Kenyans.
Another company offering training in 3D printing for Kenyans is a place named Kenya Connect. It is a not for profit organization offering STEM classes to help Kenyans learn the basics.
“3D Printing.” Kijenzi, 26 June 2017, medtechkijenzi.wordpress.com/3d-printing/.
“3D Printing in Africa: Kenya & 3D Printing.” 3DPrint.Com | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing, 1 May 2019, 3dprint.com/242729/3d-printing-in-africa-kenya-3d-printing/.