Astrium, one of the  leading European companies involved with space technologies, has launched the first phase of it’s ‘ALM with Africa’ initiative. The aim of the project is to encourage the uptake of affordable, autonomous and sustainable additive layer manufacturing (ALM) technologies (aka 3D printing) by SMEs, NGOs and universities in Africa.

Astrium ALM with Africa

Working with sustainable development NGO Songhai, based in Porto Novo, Benin, the initial step of the project was a comprehensive workshop, to open a dialogue between all the parties involved to ascertain and identify the needs of the African entrepreneurial community.

Christian Désagulier, ‘ALM with Africa’ Project Leader at Astrium said: “We are always looking at bringing new players into space – and thanks to “ALM with Africa”, we will see new technologies being used and new suppliers emerging ready to meet the needs of the industry.

But over and above the potential for extra-terrestrial industries, there are many earth-bound projects that the ALM with Africa initiative could have an impact on. There is significant need for manufacturing and repairing mechanical parts used in a variety of applications: engines, tooling, drills and pumps for water management, compressors for energy use, prosthesis for the health sector.

Rev. Godfrey Nzamujo, Director of Songhai, notes, “Songhai’s ambition is to promote economic development in Africa with a focus on sustainable socio-economic entrepreneurship. We believe that poverty will only be eradicated when we embark on broad-based, inclusive development initiatives”

Astrium is aggressively pursuing the initiative to implement the upcoming education and training phases. The company aims to support its African partners by providing training, materials and 3D printing machinery.

Initiatives like ALM with Africa and 3D printing technologies in general are particularly apt for non-first world nations and developing economies. Potentially less traditional infrastructure is required and therefore much lower capital costs are necessary to design and produce components for a huge variety of industries.

3D printing technologies have the potential to be a great democratiser hopefully not just centred around traditional western centres of industry – we shall watch this space closely

Check out Astrium’s site here.