GIS– 29 March, 2019: A second 3D Printing Centre, a joint initiative of the National Computer Board (NCB) and SME Mauritius, aiming to support a wide range of industries, professions and academia, including SMEs, start-ups, designers and university students in fields such as Medical, Engineering and Architecture, was launched yesterday on the premises of SME Mauritius in Coromandel.
The Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, and other personalities were present.
The Centre is equipped with several 3D Filaments Printers and 3D Scanners. It will act as a one stop-shop for 3D printing and 3D scanning, advice, counselling and initiation to 3D designs and modelling. It will offer several facilities namely: 3D print support services for SMEs; guide start-ups to build their own open source through the use of low cost 3D printing machines; reduce scale models for designers of various industries; create moulds and dyes through an accelerated process; logistics support to build prototypes, in particular for primary and secondary schools and university students, and provide training sessions for targeted users.
In his address at the launch event, Minister Sawmynaden recalled that the first 3D Printing Centre was set up on the NCB’s premises in February 2018. Since its operation, he said, around 50 students have used the services of the 3D Centre to prepare their projects and proof of concept and some 600 objects and parts have been crafted by the 3D printers. The scope of 3D printing technology, he highlighted is limitless and is bound to play a bigger part in the years to come. By 2027, it is predicted that 10 % of production will be done by 3D printers, he said.
Furthermore, the Minister indicated that 3D technology has been used to create artificial reefs and bases for coral breeding at the initiative of the NCB, Sun Resorts and the University of Mauritius. To that effect, he dwelt on the importance of a synergy among public and private sectors and the academia which, he said, can achieve significant results.
As regards training, the Minister emphasised the need to train people so that they can use hi-tech printers. On this score, he pointed out that the NCB in collaboration with the National Productivity and Competitiveness Council had offered a two-day training on Design Thinking & 3D Printing to some 115 students.
The Minister also evoked the collaboration between NCB and Centre Lois Lagesse (School for the Blind) and l’Union des Aveugles de L'île Maurice (Lizie dans la Main). 3D braille alphabet and education puzzles are being produced for the benefit of the visually-impaired persons at these institutions, he added.
For his part, Minister Bholah spoke about the setting up of a Digital Fabrication Lab on the premises of SME Mauritius in Coromandel which will be equipped with more robust and complex 3D printing and cutting tools. The objective, he underlined, is to encourage SMEs to adopt small agile production runs and to reduce their testing/prototyping process through the adoption of digital or Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing.
Furthermore, the Minister highlighted that Government is putting in place all the enablers to make the SME sector the locomotive of an inclusive and sustainable economy. He indicated that schemes/incentives/measures are being implemented by SME Mauritius, in line with the recommendations of the 10-Year Master Plan such as Mentoring and Hand-holding Programme, Barcode Registration System, and SME Productivity Improvement Scheme.
In addition, Mr Bholah urged entrepreneurs to get out of their comfort zones and to assume a far more prominent role in the development of the SME sector which is clearly positioned as the engine of Mauritius’s economic development. By 2026, SMEs contribution to Gross Domestic Product is expected to rise from 40% to 52%, total employment from 55% to 64%, and exports from 7% to 18%, he indicated.
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