The latest initiative of the Physics for Development group was to launch a program on 3D printing for science with the Cameroon Physical Society in cooperation with Paul Woafo (head of the physics department at Yaoundé 1 University), the founder of the Cameroon Physical Society and its first president. The main goal of this project was to improve the availability of laboratory equipment for use in university, especially for optics accessories. Nowadays taking advantage of the open source availability of 3D design of laboratory equipment it is possible to improve the situation in many universities in which workshops are scarce or not available at all. Through a close cooperation with the Scientific Fab Lab of ICTP (Trieste) a physicist of Yaoundé University Mr Nana Bonaventure was trained for three months and two 3D printer kits with spare parts were sent to him. He was able to build the two 3D printers and to print different objects.
The attached picture, which was taken last December at a conference in Yaoundé University, shows a 3D printer in action under the supervision of Nana Bonaventure.
The challenge now is to show that the 3D printer is an advantage for the universities in low resource countries and that they should include it in their tool pool. Another advantage is that prototypes may easily be manufactured and their design may be easily modified after initial tests. Moreover, 3D printers add to the collaborative improvement of equipment and allows the expression of creativity.
This approach is also applied to biology to print equipment such as biro pipettes at an affordable price. It also permits to print complex mathematical structures enabling the visualisation of complicated concepts.
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