It is a pleasure to introduce to you the Idea 2 Product™ concept, which is described in the name as an idea which is transformed into a product through additive manufacturing. Through additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, this initiative breaks the norm unlike other to find educational solutions from a simple idea to complex-, near market- or final grade products.

This initiative is supported by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) in collaboration with the Vaal University of Technology (VUT), North-West University (NWU) and the Collaborative Program on Additive Manufacturing (CPAM).

Our aim with our Idea 2 Product™ concept is to duplicate the existing and successful model to empower our under-served communities and to use the base-line technology to support innovation and income generation.

We contribute to empower our communities:

  • To locally conceptualize, define, develop and design their own solutions to problems as well as to offer new ways of thinking about and addressing their own local problems.
  • It also seeks to bridge the digital divide by making available accessible Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Manufacturing through peer-to-peer learning.

This pilot project serves to prove the applicability for youth development programmes in South-Africa and will be supplemented by support applications to commercialize the platform in South-Africa, as well as to create national projects based on the current proposals outcome. Through our scalable model

we see that this will pave the way to community innovation laboratories and we’ve learned that students progress much faster in this simulated manufacturing environment.

The overarching project aims to develop a South African generated and owned initiative that will stimulate innovation and in parallel, support skills development and employability of students.

Through our creative community partners such as Maker Station, MosaicSA and the Nelson

Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) we have multiple activities in various locations and through this the project becomes a multiplier of innovation and skills development capacity in South Africa and our neighbouring countries, with a logarithmic output growth curve.

This is achieved through high-impact programmes in idea generation, CAD training, exposure to electronic design and development, advanced and additive manufacturing exposure and critical problem solving- plus the added advantage of creating physical products that represent innovative and real-life solutions for real life problems or opportunities.

For too long South-Africans have invited and used solutions or improvements for local problems from the International market, often at extremely high costs and detrimental to own developments, not ideally fit for our context and communities.

Development of Innovation and skills capacity is crucial to lead to increased local innovation and local economic development and this need to come from home. “Real innovation comes from within”.This will only start to occur when innovative solutions can be created for local-/ community needs – leading to technolological break-throughs driven by the people that live with the problems.

We envisage that the The I2P® Lab (abbreviation for Idea 2 Product Laboratory), can also be used to enable grassroots inventions by providing a platform where communities can have access to advanced tools that can help people make products to address local needs. This laboratory gives users the ability to locally conceptualize, design, develop, fabricate and test just about anything.

The I2P Lab initiative aims to:

  • Support South Africans to conceptualize innovative ideas as solutions for local problems
  • To develop these into working and marketable projects and products
  • Create awareness and skills amongst SA youth to solve local problems
  • Orient SA Youth towards careers in Science. Engineering and Technology.
  • Develop a design and manufacturing skills base that can contribute to the creation of employment.
  • Filling important vacancies in our existing job market with (own) up-skilled students and unemployed youth.
  • Bridge the innovation chasm by developing SET HR capacity, skills and creation of innovative opportunities and products.

I2P Lab activities includes, amongst others;

  • Training, short courses and skills development in product development by making use of 3D design software and printing as well as mold making.
  • Technology Demonstrations as well as awareness campaigns.
  • Information Service Centre.
  • Project Development Support.
  • Linking to further manufacturing processes and process chains.
  • Mentoring and transfer of skills and technology to schools.

For more information about the Idea 2 Product™ concept,

please contact us by sending an e-mail to rudi.vandermerwe@nullnwu.ac.za / deon.debeer@nullnwu.ac.za / malanvt@nullvut.ac.za