By now we’ve all heard of 3D Printing and have seen acres and acres of space dedicated to the praise that has been showered on this new revolution in manufacturing. It all seems pretty foreign and reserved just for geek enthusiasts and the boldest of manufacturing giants only.
However, it turns out we actually have a local startup that is dabbling in this form of tech.The 3D Guys is a 3D printing startup founded in 2014 by Tinashe Ndhlala, a sound engineer with a keen interest in IT. Ndhlala has always followed trends in tech, having studied IT in college.
With the growing global interest in 3D printing that has made it a subject of discussion around manufacturing and tech, and having noted some potential business cases for home-based printing and additive manufacturing, Ndhlala decided to invest in the emerging “industry.”
He acquired an entry level industrial printer from China and set out to master the processes involved in
making printing objects of use. This turned out to be just the first challenge he encountered.
Over the past few months, Ndhlala has had to dedicate a lot of time and effort in mastering the printing process and supporting technology such as software for 3D modelling, which forms the basis of the 3D printing design process.
In addition to this he has had to canvas for potential buyers of 3D printed objects from both individual and corporate clients. The 3D Guys initially set out to provide 3d printing service to architects and professionals in related fields that require 3D models of building and structural designs.
This market has proved to be challenging to satisfy because of the complexities involved in the production of full-scale models that can be utilised for structural design analysis. As a result, 3D guys has pivoted to offer 3D printing of gifts and artefacts for individuals and corporates.
According to Ndhlala this market has shown some potential and with the limited resources that 3D guys is working with right now, it should serve as a springboard for any further exploration of 3d printing opportunities in Zimbabwe in the future.
There are a lot of opportunities that lie in 3D Printing. These include prototype manufacturing for medium to large scale industry, development of prosthetics for surgery and health care services as well as the use of 3D models for structural analysis, something which falls in line with architecture.
While all these are not yet within reach for Ndhlala and 3D guys, he hopes to be able to tao into this when the time is right. For now, it’s about validating the market and taking things one print at a time.