Using low-cost, sustainable 3D printing technology, Digital Blacksmiths are a network of entrepreneurs and makers developing socially impactful products, overcoming supply chain and design issues in the developing world. Their Nairobi-based HQ is shortlisting high impact products for 3D printing, and perfecting recycled PET printer filament in order to create a healthy ecosystem for entrepreneurs – supporting their strategic, technical and operational needs.
For many millions, obtaining the staples that others take for granted is a daily struggle. Developing economies face the challenge of rapidly growing populations with ever increasing needs: to alleviate poverty, improve health, education and well-being. Most of these countries have little local product development and manufacturing capability, often with ill-functioning outdated equipment. Poor infrastructure drives up the cost of distribution of imported manufactured goods. 3D printing could make manufacturing scalable and eliminate the need for distribution almost completely.
3D printing means that material goods can effectively be sent down the wires and could do for distribution what the Internet has already done for information.
We believe that 3D Printing technology has the potential to be one of the disruptive innovations that might significantly contribute to poverty alleviation. However for 3D Printing to have a real impact at a local and community level, initiatives need to be economically and environmentally sustainable (and driven from the ground up).
Without investment now in education, equipment, and entrepreneurs the developing world is at risk of missing out on these opportunities.
Digital Blacksmiths is a project that began in 2015, started by UK-based TechforTrade. TechforTrade is a charity that works at the intersection of technology, poverty alleviation and economic development. It works as a sort of social venture builder, incubating ideas around identified technology for economic value-chain opportunities, turning successful ideas into ventures, and then finally helping ventures to receive external capital and support.