Amanzimtoti resident turns love for 3D printing into a #SideHustle

Amanzimtoti resident turns love for 3D printing into a #SideHustle

After sending in his voice note to Thandolwethu's 'Side Hustle' feature, we were intrigued by what Johan van Deventer does to moonlight so we sat down with him to learn more. 

Johan van Deventer / Supplied
Johan van Deventer / Supplied

'Side Hustle' is a feature that airs on Thandolwethu's show on a Tuesday. 

It's an opportunity for individuals to advertise jobs that they do or products that they sell outside of their 9 to 5 job. All listeners need to do is submit a voice note to the show via WhatsApp. 

READ: An opportunity to talk openly about your side hustle

This past Tuesday, we received a voice note from Johan van Deventer who told us about his 3D printing side hustle. The Amanzimtoti resident moved to Durban from Randburg in 2016 after receiving an opportunity with an international company. 

The 3D printing website reports that it "is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object."

3D printing, however, is not Johan's full-time job. He is currently a Branch Manager for a manufacturing company which produces various steel products such as open steel floor grating, hand railing, guardrail, and expanded metal. 

We sat down with him to learn more about his 3D printing #SideHustle:

How did you come about being interested in 3D printing?

I love designing and working with my hands. This started as a child when I use to play Lego all the time. As I grew up, I would make things with wood, steel, cloth or anything I can get my hands on and I will first try to fix something myself before getting professional help. I've learned about 3D printing a few years ago, but at the time it was unaffordable and not very popular in South Africa. Earlier this year, I visited an industrial show at the Durban Exhibition Centre where I've met a gentleman from a company that does 3D designs and sells printers. I was sold immediately. I enrolled myself for an online evening course to learn to draw 3D designs, and boom. Now I'm hooked for life.

Is it expensive to set up as a business?

I suppose it all depends on what you want to achieve. 3D printers start from as little as R4,000 and they go up to millions of rands for a state-of-the-art machine. I've got a smallish 3D printer and I can only print PLA plastics, therefore my startup cost was not that high. I am already looking for a printer with a bigger bed and that can print with different filaments and powders. Should I consider expanding it to something to bring in a reasonable income, then it may become expensive, but as long as it is a hobby (or 'Side Hustle' in this case), then one can get away with not spending too much.

What products have you printed thus far?

I've printed a few toys for my daughter and some artistic models for my wife and friends. I've also printed a few models that I've designed myself including a couple of failures. I suppose I can say that little things please me, but my best thus far, I was able to design and print a part for my car that looked and work exactly like the original part. I recently created a Facebook page called Fused Ink 3D printing where I'm posting my prints. 

How does the cost of the printing work?

You would think that the PLA Filament (plastic) is expensive, but if you consider the weight of the items you print, then that is the least of the cost. The first thing that I've learned about 3D printing is that a print can take a long time. The designing and printing time are the biggest costs. My largest print took a total of 15 hours. You shouldn't buy a printer and think you're going to print thousands of little company promo stuff. To make money from printing you need to be able to design and be able to charge for your time.

What items or products can you print?

Almost anything. My current limitations are size, material and heat resistance (max 600 Celcius) of the products that I can print. On the internet, there are thousands, if not millions, of designs that you can download. The 3D printing community are like family and people are always willing to assist and give advice. However, I believe that to have an edge on the rest of the market you should be able to design things that people may require. I'm currently busy designing parts for airsoft rifles.

Do you feel that SA has embraced 3D printing or is the wave yet to come?

3D printing is still new and not fully embraced as yet in South Africa. I've done some research and I found that in some first world countries kids have 3D printers at schools that they use for their projects. In Oregon, USA, Nike has started printing their shoes. We've still got a long way to go, but I think that SA will follow soon. It is people like you and me that can make a difference.

How does the public get in touch with you?

The public is welcome to contact me on my phone or email:

Tel: 082 098 8682

Email: [email protected]

They can also follow me on Facebook: Fused Ink 3D Printing

#SideHustle will air every Tuesday on Thandolwethu's show exclusive to East Coast Radio. All you need to do is submit a 50-second WhatsApp voice note to 061 792 9495 telling us about your side hustle, and how people can contact you. 

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