Rosebank student builds 3D printer

This 3D printer was built by UCT student Denislav Marinov.

A UCT student has built a one-of-a-kind industrial 3D printer which he hopes to roll out at schools.

Denislav Marinov, of Rosebank, got involved with 3D printing in high school.

The 20-year-old undergraduate physics and chemistry student launched a crowd-funding campaign to produce his first industrial 3D printer, which doubles as a laser cutter.

The printer can make life-size prototypes, furniture, sculptures and a myriad other projects, says Denislav.

UCT’s Klaus-Jurgen Bathe Leadership Programme supported the project.

“My journey started in high school, where, through design freelancing, I managed to save enough to purchase my first 3D printer. This was the beginning of a wondrous adventure, navigating the tech landscape in South Africa,” he says.

A few years later, Denislav started his own prototyping and 3D printing service, DVM Designs, working closely with innovators and entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life.

“In the process, I had designed and built my own 3D printer that would allow me to increase my production capabilities. Apart from that, I was immersed in the marvellous, intricate world of engineering and mechanical systems. This was the start of what I believe to be a lifelong learning journey extending beyond the bounds of my degree.”

He has raised R48 000 for the project, with R28 000 coming from the Klaus-Jurgen Bathe Leadership Programme. Denislav also ploughed R15 000 of his own money into the project.

“The project, in its current phase, has material costs between R60 000 to R70 000 but could exceed R100 000. However, apart from material costs, a significant amount of time goes into designing and iterating the project, not to mention modifying and writing new software,” he says.

Denislav says he was fortunate to be a beneficiary of the leadership programme.

“As one of many young innovators in Africa with ambitious dreams and aspirations, pursuing these ventures is often impossible, or incredibly difficult, at best. At our tender age, investment and support is often hard
to find. With the programme’s support, I have been given a clear runway to complete my project. The completion of this giant build would allow me to start producing my own 3D printers for both household and industrial use.”

UCT’s Klaus-Jurgen Bathe Leadership Programme supports exceptional students across all disciplines. Its main goal is to produce graduates with outstanding leadership qualities and a strong sense of social justice who will go on to play leading and significant roles in business, government, industry and civil society.

Denislav’s most ambitious plan is to get a 3D printer into every school in South Africa.

“I believe exposing the youth to these new technologies and activities beyond the standard schooling curriculum would foster a generation of inspired engineers and scientists. I envision a future where our educational system integrates these technologies to not only improve learning but make it accessible to all.”

Once he completes his degree
in physics and chemistry, he plans to pursue a Master’s in physics and contribute to research in quantum mechanics.