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Togo inventor builds recycled printer

January 22, 2018

(Credit: Intellivoire)

An inventor from Togo has constructed a 3D printer using recycled e-waste.

34-year old Togolese inventor, Afate Gnikou, created the printer in 2013, building it “entirely out of recycled electronic waste”, as Raluca Besliu of Scroll reports.

Gnikou got the idea for his recycled printer after attending a 2012 digital fabrication FabLab workshop held in Togo’s capital, Lome, where he watched a 3D printer being assembled. A trained geographer who also has a passion for tinkering “in electronics and bricolage”, Gnikou “became enthralled” by the spectacle of the FabLab 3D printer being constructed using an installation kit from France which had all the “required hardware and software.”

Inspired, it didn’t take long for Gnikou to think of the possible benefits the construction of 3D printers could have for his country, “where industry accounts for five percent of the labour force” and under employment rates are estimated to be around 20 percent.

While “the latest technological advancements” may not be accessible in Togo, the construction of devices “with bits and pieces from discard units” could have a positive impact across society, promoting “broader innovation, education and exploration”.

The creation of 3D printers from recycled e-waste “could ultimately propel Togo into the technological markets of West Africa and eventually the globe” as well as benefitting the environment “by increasing reuse of discarded electronics.”

When the workshop was over the FabLab printer was put on display, and Gnikou visited it on a weekly basis, examining the device and attempting to work out how it was put together and operated. He erected an open-air workshop near his home, disassembled some old desktop computers and, using the parts as well as instructions off the Internet and YouTube tutorial videos, began assembling his own 3D printer.

His homemade recycled printer has since garnered “substantial international recognition”, winning a prize at the 10th annual FabLab conference held in Barcelona in 2014, but Gnikou didn’t stop there. He continued tinkering and in 2015 created a second prototype, also using discarded computer and printer parts.

The inventor has “found multiple uses” for his 3D printer, including “printing inexpensive prototypes of designs by local entrepreneurs”. He has also been able to train others to construct their own 3D printing devices and in December 2016 co-organised the inaugural 2-day Togo MakerFest, in collaboration with EcoTec Lab.

His “upcoming projects” include using recycled plastic to “produce the special plastic material” required for the printer.

Categories : Around the Industry

Tags : 3D printing eWaste Recycling Togo

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