News 3D printer from e-waste

Published on October 14th, 2013 | by Derek Markham


3D Printer Built from E-Waste by African Inventor

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3D printer from e-wasteA young Togolese inventor, working out of a makerspace in Lome, built his own 3D printer using discarded e-waste scavenged from one of the huge tech graveyards (read: e-waste dump) near Accra, in Ghana.

And if it wasn’t enough for Afate Gnikou to just build his own from the dregs of modern technology, he has also standardized and open-sourced the 3D printer plans, so that any other enterprising maker can build their own from e-waste, which could help kickstart makerspaces all over.

The W.Afate 3D printer was developed at the first makerspace in western Africa, WoeLab, so the “3D printer of the poor” is indeed “Made in Africa. The printer project had a successful fundraising campaign on Ulule, and now the e-waste 3D printer is aiming for Mars.

Yes, Mars.

As a participant in NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge, the W.Afate 3D printer concept is further embellished upon:


“Relocate the computing garbage dumps on Mars via the development of a new generation of autonomous machines made in recycled waste, in forefront of a more economic and virtuous spatial adventure. An African 3D-Printer as pioneer of this interstellar ecologic recycling!” – W.Afate to Mars

Three solutions are addressed with the W.Afate to Mars project:

  1. Give some value e-waste and help cleaning up computer dumpsites as Agbogbloshie in Ghana which extends across an entire neighborhood.
  2. Using technology within the reach of ordinary people and make Africa, not a spectator, but a full-fledged actor of a next industrial revolution most virtuous.
  3. Encourage the diversion and recycling of waste to avoid scrap and generate new economic contribution to African households, schools and Internet cafes machines.

It’s a pretty brilliant idea, isn’t it? Regardless of whether or not it’s feasible to send this to space, the fact is, taking old tech and being able to turn it into new tech using opensource plans could empower a whole new generation of entrepreneurs.

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About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, RebelMouse, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

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