One of the largest foundries in West Africa is driving innovation and economic growth in the region by utilizing Titan Robotics’ large-format 3D printer, the Atlas. As Titan’s Maddie Garrett reported on the company’s blog, The application is using 3D printing to create patterns for metal casting. This past summer, Titan Robotics Founder and CEO Clay Guillory traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, to install the largest known 3D printer in West Africa at Nigerian Foundries Limited (NFL).
NFL first contacted Titan Robotics in the Fall of 2016 with the desire to improve their processes and expand their capabilities as a foundry. Encouraged by Titan’s video on 3D printing and pattern making, NFL owner Vassily Barberopoulos and his colleagues were ready to take the leap into additive manufacturing.
And the future, says Vassily, is full of opportunity for not just his business but also his country. It has been his life’s mission to build the family business and bring economic growth to Nigeria. The Barberopoulos family started NFL in 1969 as a small gray iron foundry, making municipal castings and water pipeline fittings. Now NFL has grown to become the largest ferrous foundry in Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa). Currently, two NFL plants serve multiple industries such as oil and gas, construction, marine shipping, mines and mineral processing and much more.
“This is a big thing for us, because right now in Nigeria we’re at the stage where local content is very important,” said Vassily.
Using 3D printing to create higher quality and more cost effective patterns means NFL will be able to continue to expand its offerings to industries in Nigeria and globally. Traditionally, foundries like NFL carve patterns and tooling out of wood by hand. Vassily explained that this method takes them over a month, from the design to creating the wooden pattern and then casting it. But with 3D printing on the Atlas, that time is reduced by more than half.
Vassily said, “For us, it’s an important aspect because it means for most castings that we can print, we could actually make a pattern within 48 hours and be in production and have a product within a week out, something that would normally take us a month and a half.”
NFL’s work with 3D printing is also part of a nationwide initiative to foster economic growth and innovation in Nigeria, called the Nigerian Local Content Act. Vassily explained that 3D printing patterns on the Atlas enables the foundry to fabricate better and more complex patterns, making NFL a more competitive company internationally.
Vassily says the goal is to create local goods that meet international standards and are ready for market in a timely manner, something most foundries in West Africa have not been able to do yet.
“So we are looking at going with 3D printing at a much higher level of castings and producing castings for the oil and gas industry, in particular like valves and pump housings and impellers and such things which before would be very difficult for us to actually make the patterns and be able to go through the trouble shooting,” he said. “Now it is within reach.”
And Titan Robotics is proud to be a part of that progress through its work with NFL.
“I think it has a lot of potential here, this country is very hungry for learning and very hungry for opportunity,” said Titan CEO Clay Guillory. “People are ready to compete on a global scale here, that’s one thing I took away from Nigeria is this place has a lot offer and it’s an up and coming country.”