JKUAT, TUBAF Hold Seminar to Assess SustainAM Progress

Additive manufacturing equipment at the Mechatronic Engineering lab

There are more than 400 million tonnes of plastic worldwide today, but only 5% is recycled. In efforts geared toward reusing plastic and adopting clean energy, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI) have collaborated with Technische Universitat Bergakademie Freiberg (TUBAF), Germany, to achieve the goal of environmental sustainability.

The collaboration dubbed Sustainable Additive Manufacturing (SustainAM) is utilizing local bio-based residue materials to enhance additive manufacturing (AM) in Kenya, incorporating bio-based materials that currently go to waste, and are unwanted or underutilized.     

SustainAM, launched in June 2021, held an online seminar on Wednesday, July 6, 2022, where researchers from the three institutions presented their findings on various studies relating to additive manufacturing or 3D printing.

The seminar was spearheaded by Dr. Wamai Mwangi, a lecturer of Mechatronic Engineering and the project coordinator at JKUAT, and Prof. Dr. -Ing Henning Zeidler, a professor at TUBAF.

Present during the seminar was the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Admin and Finance) Prof. Bernard Ikua, who articulated his exhilaration at the progress of the project saying it has fostered capacity development and enhanced exchange of technical and cultural know-how between JKUAT and TUBAF.

“The focus of the project is not only to extend the range of printable additive manufacturing materials but also to establish a Centre of Excellence in Additive Manufacturing at JKUAT,” Prof. Ikua stated.

The project aims to incorporate bio-based materials into the additive manufacturing process that popularly uses plastic. Several potential materials in Kenya that are underexploited, wasted or alternatively a menace to the environment, have been considered for use.

“The materials used for 3D printing are as diverse as the products that result from the process. With current technology, we are able to use powders, metal, carbon fiber, graphite and paper. Best of all, 3D printing is much easier and safer than traditional methods of production,” said Dr. Wamai.

3D printing is a manufacturing process in which raw materials are laid down layer by layer, to form a three-dimensional object. The process involves designing the model using computer software, printing and finishing i.e. making final touches on the printed object.

Members of the project from TUBAF, Germany, will be visiting JKUAT in September 2022 to follow up on the progress of the project in the institution, and collate their findings, to resolve the best next step in additive manufacturing.

Also present during the seminar were the Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. James Kimotho, Chair, Department of Mechatronic Engineering Dr. Kabini Karanja, Ms. Maurine Andanje and Ms. Lucy Kariuki from the Department of Mechatronic Engineering, and postgraduate students both from JKUAT, PAUSTI and TUBAF. The student included Peter Langat, Francis Njihia, Felix Sotohou, Grace Wamuti, Katja Brauer, Phillip Spreer and Abid Shah.

JKUAT SustainAM team including the PAUSTI and JKUAT postgraduate students pose for a photo

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