We first discovered the Digital Blacksmiths when they applied for some laptops for their project. We visited their set up at the University of Nairobi Maker Space to see what it was all about. AB3D is just one part of the digital blacksmiths and they believe that creating real change starts at the community level. They want to bring revolutionary technology to Africa by meeting local needs and solving challenges.
Their 3D printers are made of locally sourced materials from the WEEE centre. They reuse wires and parts from e-waste, meaning no two printers are exactly the same. After creating their first machine, they used it to print their second! The printer uses a recycled filament created from waste plastic and are often held together with 3D printed parts. Their commitment to sustainability is impressive and at the core of their mission.
I grew up like any other kid in the hood; I never had any thought process of doing this in the future. It came up through my interactions in college. I got into the software world; more so into appropriate technology where its is about designing technology that is solving a problem in the community.
- Karl Heinz, AB3D, in Techpoint
Until this point, 3D printers had to be ordered from the US and were very expensive. Not to mention the issues surrounding import costs, the possibility of a broken product arriving, and if replacement parts needed to be sent, the delay in receiving them. By reusing materials, AB3D are able to keep costs low, with one of their printers costing around $400 USD.
We are selling a reality, how many other printers are made from recycled and reused parts?
- Roy, AB3D, in Techpoint
If you'd like to find out more about this project or support them, you can visit their website.