Lagos, Nigeria, a place not commonly known for 3D printing, just got a huge innovation boost at one of the largest foundries in West Africa — Nigerian Foundries Limited.
Clay Guillory, Founder and CEO of Colorado-based Titan Robotics, traveled to Nigeria this past summer to help install the largest-format 3D printer West Africa has seen to date, a Titan Atlas. The Atlas is Titan Robotics’ flagship 3-axis industrial 3D printer, capable of printing a 30″ x 30″ x 45″ build area, with larger models available.
The video below shows the capabilities and application of the Atlas at Nigerian Foundries Limited in Lagos, Nigeria. The 3D printer is being used to create patterns to aid in the manufacturing of metal castings.
“Nigerian Foundries Limited (NFL) is the leading ferrous foundry group in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) with a total installed capacity of 8,500 metric tons per year. It has two plants, one in Ilupeju Lagos State and one at Sango-Otta, Ogun State. NFL was started as a small grey iron foundry at Ilupeju in 1969 by the Barberopoulos brothers making municipal castings and water pipeline fittings,” the company notes.
NFL serves a number of industries to include: Oil & Gas, Construction, Mines & Mineral processing, and many others.
Traditionally, a foundry uses wood patterns to create sand molds. Molten metal is then poured into these molds to produce metal castings. The creation of these mold patterns, especially for complex shapes, can be a tedious and time-consuming process, sometimes taking up to 6-8 weeks. Further, once a pattern is made in a traditional process, any changes afterwards can be even more time-consuming and costly. However, 3D printing changes this dynamic with its ability to print plastic patterns on demand within days, an application increasingly in focus for additive manufacturing. This not only benefits the foundry, but end consumers as well.
Nigerian Foundries Limited President Vassily Oye Barberopoulos noted that with the addition of this printer, their lead times are dramatically reduced. In the video above, Barberopoulos notes the lead time advantages as follows:
“For us, it’s an important aspect because it means for most castings that we can print, we could actually make a pattern within 48 hours and be in production and have a product within a week out, something that would normally take us a month and a half.”
Nigeria is not new to innovation and 3D printing. Just last year, GE announced they would be setting up a GE Garage in Lagos. The country has also seen initiatives set up to bring 3D printing technology to its youth.
Titan CEO Guillory noted the potential in Nigeria, saying in reference to 3D printing and new technology, “I think it has a lot of potential here, this country is very hungry for learning and very hungry for opportunity.”
As the video notes, the foundry’s progress is all part of a nationwide initiative to create economic growth – the Nigerian Local Content Act. As for Titan, they are certainly starting to make a name for themselves in the foundry industry. Titan prides themselves on creating large industrial-grade 3D printers that are built to last. This design mindset bodes well for foundries that need reliable long-lasting equipment to meet the demands of a foundry environment.
In all, this is just a start of a wider trend for how 3D printing is changing the manufacturing game across all industries and continents.
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