11 April 2019

Cameroon: Govt Acquires First-Ever 3D Printing Facility

The hi-tech machines worth circa FCFA 3 billion will help students of the National Advanced School of Engineering Yaounde, and beyond, get acquainted with the most advanced engineering technology.

Astate-of-the-art 3dimentional printing facility, one of the most advanced technological and high-tech facilities in Africa, which incorporates ultra-modern Israeli technology and equipment, has been inaugurated in Yaounde. The 3D Printing High-Tech Center, hosted by the National Advanced School of Engineering (ENSP) of the University of Yaounde I, was presented to the public on Wednesday April 10.

The new tech structure is incorporated into ENSP's High-Tech Center; opened in 2012 and offering training courses in robotics, mechatronics, electronics, computer science and industrial automation. The 3D Printing High-Tech Center, put in place by Israeli tech company - SELA Educational Initiatives Limited, cost the State of Cameroon about FCFA 2.8 billion. It comes to boost the existing High-Tech Center which is equipped with 12 laboratories, more than 100 robots and 160 computers, and is considered one of the most advanced of its type in Africa.

According to a press release sent to our newsroom by the Embassy of Israel in Yaounde, the facility is the fruit of excellent relations between Israel and Cameroon in the field of education."Having considered the venture's proven success, the relevant parties decided to upgrade it even further with the launching of a department for 3-dimensional printing," the release said, stating that, in February 2017, the Cameroonian Ministry of Higher Education and SELA Educational Initiatives signed a new agreement to that effect.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, the Minister of State, Minister of Higher Education, Prof. Jacques Fame Ndongo said the 3D Printing HighTech Center is the personal initiative of the Head of State, Paul Biya, who is the apostle of the New University Governance Policy.He noted that the edifice is part of the Uni versity Free Zone project put in place to enable the country face national and global demands for qualified engineers of technology. "This structure is the product of the ingenuity of Israel known since ancient times," the Minister said, while expressing optimism over the fact that the facility will enable the National Advanced School of Engineering to stand the challenge of professionalism and employability. He then called on students to take advantage of the center to blossom. Minister Fame Ndongo used the occasion to disclose that one of the digital centers - that of the University of Yaounde I - of the e-National Higher Education Network is ready for use and will be inaugurated soon. To the Israeli Ambassador to Cameroon, Ran Gidor, it is thanks to decade-long investment in education, science and research that Israel is able to stand out.

"There is absolutely no reason why Cameroon should not achieve what Israel has achieved. Cameroon has an absolute advantage over Israel," the Israeli diplomat posited, noting that he has met Cameroonians who are as brilliant as those in Israel and other parts of the world.

Going by the Ambassador, "Cameroon has the opportunities to become the 'Silicon Valley' of Africa." It should be noted that the revolutionary technology of 3D printing will contribute significantly to the modernization of the Cameroonian industry, facilitating the local printing of foreign-designed prototypes. It will also boost medical treatment by the production of individual prosthetic implants and artificial limbs.

Technical Features

The 3D Printing High-Tech Center consists of 12 laboratories - 3D scanning, fused deposition modelling, postproduction, 3D design polyjet, 3D ideas polyjet, ideas fused deposition modelling, computer-aided design and computer-aided engineering rooms.

It also has network hubs, rooms for instructors, toilets, high capacity stabilizer and generator, amongst others. According to Uri Sela, President of Sela Educational Initiatives Limited, 3D printing is the most advanced technology in the world today for prototyping. "Students will learn to design with the most advanced software packages. After the design of new products and parts, they will proceed with 3D print of those parts.

All these technologies are available here. The most important thing is that they will make it a service bureau. They will actually sell products. For instance, they have a customer in Israel who designs a product and sends it here to be 3D printed and the job is done here. Then they sent it back in a box to Israel by courier service 24 hours laterand they charge them for that," he explained.

With about 23 high end 3D printing machines and 200 design stations, Uri says it is a win-win. "Students here will learn the most advanced tech nology in the world in engineering - how to design parts for industrial, medical and au tomotive applications. In fact, everything is here," he underscored.

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