04 May INDUSTRIAL EVOLUTION
ROBOBEAST 3D PRINTERS – Made in SA
This changes everything. A technology that transforms digital information into physical objects.
“Every so often a disruptive technology comes along, and nothing is ever the same again,”
says Rich Van As, inventor of the Robobeast 3D printer.
Van As used his knowledge and skills in a life-changing way to pave the way for factories of the future.
Van As is a South African entrepreneur, who lost four fingers from his right hand. When asked how he coped with such a life-changing experience he reverted; “Doesn’t greatness often come from adversity, and if you can enable one you can enable many?” So Rich invented the Robohand; a 3D printed mechanical limb which has enabled thousands of amputees around the world and his open source designs have been downloaded free over 200 000 times.
His mission to find a suitable 3D printer for his 3D designs only led to frustration due to the limitations of available 3D printers, so he decided to develop his own, the Robobeast, a truly South African product that punches well above its weight.
In March 2014 Rich flew to Turkey with the first four Robobeasts ever produced and crossed into Syria where he donated and set up his 3D printers to enable local organisations to print hands for amputees in the war-torn country. Those 3D printers were developed to withstand rugged conditions and to run on solar power, a feature proving very beneficial to South African businesses.
Soon after his return he met Simon Carter and they formed a partnership which within a year has perfected, developed and sold over 50 Robobeast 3D printers. Robobeast manufactures the 3D printers from a factory in Randburg with a showroom in Fourways and has the capacity to produce 20 printers a month without compromising the quality and precision for which these printers have become known.
Simon Carter notes that 3D printing will be life-changing, not only for individuals, but for massive organisations, and it’s not something to be ignored. This technology will create businesses and careers that no one even knew existed, and it’s only just beginning. He cautions that “organisations that don’t adopt this technology within the next few years will be left behind. Forward thinking engineering, architectural, manufacturing and industrial design companies that have this “secret weapon” will surge ahead.”
Van As is invited to many forward thinking gatherings where he emphasises the importance of 3D printing, and how it can be used to change the world we live in. Amongst the many global gatherings that Rich has been invited to speak at are the 2015 WISH conference in Doha and the CUSP summit in Chicago. He was nominated for the Rockefeller Innovators Award and has held exhibitions at the Science Museum of London and the Youngstown Museum. He was featured in Time Magazine and has made international appearances on CNBC, Fox and NPR. In February Carte Blanche hailed his inventions and featured Robobeast as a South African company leading the tech-revolution.