Professor Deon de Beer won the 2014/15 NSTF Award for research leading to innovation, by a team or individual through a corporate organisation.

On 7 August, during National Science Week, Prof de Beer addressed a group of approximately 60 students and staff at the NWU Science Centre in Potchefstroom. The centre is headed by Prof Jan Smit.

The topic of Prof de Beer’s talk was additive manufacturing, which he described as ‘industrial 3D printing’, a powerful technology with remarkable potential in the development of new solutions, materials and economy. Additive manufacturing is a very different way of making things – objects are built up by adding material, instead of machining material away. Components can be made to exact specifications.

Products of laser-additive manufacturing include textiles, shoes (especially soles), and applications in medicine (such as reconstructing missing or damaged body parts by creating artificial bones) and aviation technology, such as the Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC), designed and built in South Africa by Aerosud in partnership with the Paramount Group.

Prof de Beer explained that his focus is to make additive manufacturing as accessible as possible and to boost the economic value that it can bring by empowering others.

The NSTF thanks Prof Jan Smit and his team for their warm welcome and for organising a great event, and Prof Deon de Beer for his entertaining and informative talk.