Utilising plastic waste to create 3D-printed products in sub-Saharan Africa

Muyiwa Oyinlola, Silifat abimbola Okoya, Timothy Whitehead

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


Additive manufacturing, also known as three-dimensional (3D) printing, has been recognised as a leading frontier technology which could support international development. Currently, the technology is at a “tipping point”, where it is becoming a feasible manufacturing technique and is considered to be the cornerstone of future decentralised manufacturing networks. This game-changing technology is expected to have a substantial impact in Africa as the cost of an entry-level printer has declined from $30,000 to $200 in the last two decades. In turn, this has empowered small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by lowering the barrier to manufacture since there are no tooling costs and one printer can produce specific parts for different applications at the same time. This chapter illustrates through case study examples how local plastic waste can be used in the creation of new, innovative, locally made products which meet specific local needs. It is fundamentally important to develop innovative solutions to the problem caused by plastic waste, especially in African countries which have poor infrastructure and inadequate waste management systems. It is critical that frontier technologies such as 3D printing are developed and their potential explored in Africa as they provide a method to leapfrog capital-intensive traditional manufacturing as well as an opportunity to create new businesses and support wealth generation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital Innovations for a Circular Plastic Economy in Africa
EditorsMuyiwa Oyinlola, Oluwaseun Kolade
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781003278443
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an open access chapter licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/].

Funding: This work is supported by the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) under Grant EP/T0238721.


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