The problem with most ‘affordable’ 3D printers, says South African inventor Richard van As, is that they’re too fragile to be of much use in the field. Ever since the first low cost RepRap 3D printers appeared in 2007, speculation has been rife about how they could change the lives of those living at the bottom of the economic pyramid by giving them access to complex manufacturing techniques at a low cost. Up until now, that is. Enter RoboBeast, a RepRap-derivative 3D printer designed by van As that’s made to be thrown into the back of a 4×4, driven deep into the African bush, and will work flawlessly first time when it’s set up. van As, a carpenter by trade, shot to fame a year ago following an article in Popular Mechanics. The feature described how, after losing four fingers on his right hand in a work-related accident, he collaborated with an American inventor to create RoboHand, a functioning prosthetic hand made from orthoplast and 3D printed parts. Since then, van As has been inundated with requests for help and interest from international press, physicians and NGOs. Helping those who were either born without fingers as a result of amniotic… Read full this story
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