Exploring the Prospects of Using 3D Printing Technology in the South African Human Settlements

Exploring the Prospects of Using 3D Printing Technology in the South African Human Settlements

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), in partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) hosted the second virtual IID seminar on Exploring the Prospects of Using 3D Printing Technology in the South African Human Settlements, on 1 March 2021 on Zoom.

South Africa is a country with significant socio-economic development challenges, with the majority of South Africans having limited or non-existent access to basic infrastructure, services, housing and socio-economic opportunities etc. The urban housing backlog currently exceeds 2.4 million houses, with many families living in informal settlements. The Breaking New Grounds Policy, 2014 for the creation of sustainable human settlements, acknowledges the challenges facing human settlements, such as, decreasing human settlements grants allocation, increasing housing backlog, mushrooming of informal settlements and urbanisation.

The White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), 2019 notes that South Africa has not yet fully benefited from the potential of STI in addressing the socio-economic challenges and seeks to support the circular economy principles which entail a systematic change of moving to a zero or low waste resource-efficient society. Further to this, the Science and Technology Roadmap’s intention is to unlock the potential of South Africa’s human settlements for a decent standard of living through the smart uptake of science, technology and innovation. One such novel technology is the Three-Dimensional (3D) printing technology, which has produced numerous incredible structures around the world. 3D printing is a computer-controlled industrial manufacturing process which encompasses additive means of production to create 3D shapes. The effects of such a technology have a potential to change the world we live in and could subsequently pave the roadmap to improve on housing delivery and reduce the negative effects of conventional construction methods on the environment.

The webinar presented preliminary findings from a study conducted by the University of Johannesburg, addressing the following topics:

  1. 1. The viability of 3D printing technology
  2. 2. Cost comparison of 3D printed house to conventional construction
  3. 3. Preliminary perceptions on 3D printing of houses

There was a unanimous consensus that collaborative efforts from all stakeholders are key to take advantage of this niche technology. Speakers included Dr Jennifer Mirembe (NDoHS), Dr Jeffrey Mahachi, Mr Refilwe Lediga, Mr Khululekani Ntakana and Dr Luxien Ariyan, all from UJ. There were over 100 participants in attendance.