Hans Fouche is an Inventor and Engineer, who is fascinated with 3D Printing. In this interview, we discuss his invention, which is the Cheetah 3D printer and his outlook on the African 3D printing landscape.
Can you give us your background in 3D printing and additive manufacturing?
For me, it started way back in 1990 while working at Brabham F1 in the wind tunnel, developing models for testing. I started with Superglue layers and then Icing sugar, chocolate, and ABS plastic. More recently with Potters clay and Cement.
You are an inventor and engineer. Can you explain the importance of these two skills in 3D printing and additive manufacturing?
I always wanted to do “my own thing”. Then it is very important to think outside the box, but Engineering still keeps your feet on the ground, and ensure you come up with practical machines that can work.
You invented the Cheetah 3D printer. Can you describe the printer and its applications?
I also went through the small desktop filament 3D printer stage, but find it very expensive and slow. Inventor and engineers don’t like that and so the idea is to make it cheaper and faster! Use the material that filament is made of and go for a bigger nozzle size. The Extruder we use is just a filament Extruder turned through 90 degrees, and we print with the filament before it has time to cool down. The ABS pellet price is a tenth of the ABS filament price, and our flow rate is 1 Kg per hour, ten times more than a normal desktop printer. Applications you get is real size, usable things, that you can sell.
What advantages does the Cheetah 3D printer have over other 3D printers of similar build up in the market?
Price. The price per cubic meter of the print volume is the best there is. That is achieved via design. These are no-frills industrial machines. You won’t find any flickering multi-color LCD’s on them.
How has the Cheetah 3D printer performed in the African market in terms of acceptance and sales?
Slow. The machine is far “out of the box”, and people are slow to take upon such ideas, but there are a few early adopters, with very nice long term plans. Big plans.
Do you see yourself extending the Cheetah 3D printing family with more models soon?
Yes. The Cheetah, speed, has some African Animal friends! The Warthog, playing in the mud, prints with Potters clay. The Termite builds huge structures with mud, is a cement printer. The Octopus 3D Chocolate printer, have 8 nozzles. The Dream: You have a central warehouse in a village, with lots of Cheetahs, Warthogs and Termite 3D Printers in the Village. Local Taxi’s take bags of ABS, Clay and Premix Cement to the 3D Printers in the village, who get the g-code files for the week’s production via e-mail. Five people around every machine do the week’s production at their houses, look after their children after school, don’t worry about daily transport to a big factory. The next week the local taxi, pick up the production, drop off new material, and the Printer Owner gets the week’s production via e-mail. And then all these products get sold on Amazon.
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