A Year of Firsts for 3D Printing in South Africa

As the year draws to a close, it’s often a time of reflection, appreciation and planning for the future. After a year filled with highs and lows, South African businesses have certainly felt the pressure. From lay-offs to financial loss and even, in extreme cases, having to close their doors permanently, business owners have been put through the wringer. But, all is not lost as some companies have found ways to thrive during incredibly challenging times. One such business is Red Cup Village, a leader in biodegradable 3D printing in South Africa.

Thanks to innovative technology, sheer determination and a passion for what he does, Red Cup Village Managing Director Luvuyo Ndiki is bringing 3D printing and scanning to South Africans, organisations and start-ups across various sectors. According to him, 2021 was a turning point in the business. “I got the break I was looking for and in 2021 to be able to start Red Cup Village, a business I’m incredibly passionate about. It went from one person running things at home to a full production team. Opening this farm and the opportunities it will bring in the future has been a key highlight for me.”

Customisation and large-scale production

Ndiki continues that growth has played an important role for him over the last 12 months, despite all the challenges of setting up a business in the midst of a pandemic. He attributes his success to being able to introduce a unique and innovative concept to the South African market that has never been done before and to provide customisations for the customer. 

“In the past, customising products was difficult and expensive. This was limiting to me, but thanks to 3D printing, we can offer customisation at a lower price than industrial manufacturers. We can now provide customisation for specific individuals or specific jobs. This allows us to create products that never existed before. It allows customers to feel special because everything is made according to their preferences.”

Key milestones

The healthcare market is one of the industries where 3D printing has become increasingly important and in-demand. In fact, the global 3D printing in healthcare market size was US$ 1.2 billion in 2021 and forecast to grow to US$ 6.1 billion by 2030. “3D printing technology in healthcare means we can now produce customised medical equipment, devices and products for patients, driven by an increasing demand for more cost-effective health products,” says Ndiki. Luckily, South Africa is at the cusp of this growth.

“One of our biggest milestones this year was being able to 3D print a medical device that was accredited by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). We are the first company in South Africa to achieve this, making it one of our biggest milestones for Red Cup Village and a progressive step for 3D printing in the country,” continues Ndiki.

2022 and beyond

Ndiki admits to being excited about the potential of 3D printing in the future, as well as the growth of Red Cup Village. “We want to manage the entire supply chain, from making the product to delivery, all remotely and automatically. We’re working hard to get our products to market, get our website fully automated and provide opportunities for customisation. While there’s still plenty of work to be done, we’ve taken bold steps towards achieving these goals. 

Ndiki ends off with some words of inspiration. “I believe in the concept of belief. I believe that in the new year and beyond, 3D printing will disrupt a lot of industries across different sectors, and I’m excited to see this happen in South Africa. I think that we had a small amount of time to showcase what we’re capable of, and we’re on the path to becoming one of the biggest companies in Africa. We’re just getting started.”

About Red Cup Village

Red Cup Village is an on-demand consumer products and medical devices manufacturing company. Using 3D printing and 3D scanning technology in combination with material science, Red Cup Village helps health professionals and users make physical products faster than traditional manufacturing processes using material derived from corn-starch, sugarcane and recycled plastics.


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