News / Africa

'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenyai
X
Lenny Ruvaga
July 31, 2014 4:32 PM
The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country.

This is the 3D MakerBot printer in action. The machine is a scanner that prints three-dimensional objects of almost any shape from electronic data -- using plastic as its raw material. This drastically reduces costs.

Twenty-one year old Alois Mbutura is a first-year electrical engineering student at the University of Nairobi.
 
In March, he came up with the idea of a ‘vein finder’ -- a device that will help doctors administer intravenous needles to tiny infants. Today he is perfecting his design, which currently is in the prototype phase.

3D printing

This 3D printer can produce 100 such devices in a day.

"The vein finder was actually a solution that the School of Health and School of Engineering partnered to reduce the inability of health care people to find veins in babies and also for it to be economical and suited to Kenya," said Mbutura.
 
Affordable production is the hallmark of this Fabrication Laboratory.
 
“FabLab” as it’s called, is a small-scale workshop offering digital fabrication at the University of Nairobi.  It is part of the international FabLab network which started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
 
Dr. Kamau Gachigi heads the FabLab here. Established five years ago, its initial aim was to make ‘almost anything.’ But new innovations and expertise have changed that aim to make 'machines that make almost anything.’
 
There are some 400 FabLabs worldwide and two in Kenya. Gachigi believes they will promote the creation of an atmosphere and culture of innovation.
 
"The maker movement will generate a new kind of producer so to speak and a lot of young people are extremely interested. Young people have a knack for technology," said Gachigi.

Innovative production

And this maker movement is gradually beginning to take shape.
 
Two years ago, Peter Mburi won the People’s Choice award at the NASA Space Applications Challenge for his ‘Bit Harvester’ invention, made possible by 3D technology.
 
"The bit harvester is an electronic device designed to monitor remotely -- using SMS -- wind turbines and solar installations. So you can see if they are operating okay or not operating okay and you can take the necessary measures to see how to correct the problem," said Mburi.
 
In a few months, a third Kenyan FabLab is scheduled to open on the outskirts of Nairobi. It is expected to focus on medical and energy-based equipment, taking this manufacturing revolution to another level.

 

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs