The potential of converting plastic waste to 3D printed products in Sub-Saharan Africa

Muyiwa Oyinlola*, Silifat Abimbola Okoya, Timothy Whitehead, Mark Evans, Anne Sera Lowe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Additive manufacturing (3D printing) can transform low-income societies with underdeveloped infrastructure and inadequate manufacturing capabilities. However, uptake in sub-Saharan Africa is still very low. This study adopted a transdisciplinary approach which included critical synthesis of the extant literature, laboratory experiment and a cross sectional engagement with stakeholders, to examine the potential of converting plastic waste to 3D printed products in sub-Saharan Africa. The study showed that while several extruders have been developed in the last decade, there are still many challenges some of which include difficulty to produce filaments with consistent diameter, degraded mechanical properties and health hazards from emissions during extrusion. Furthermore, it was observed that communities across sub-Saharan Africa are interested in 3D printing but do not have sufficient understanding. The study highlights the need for building local capacity to develop, operate and maintain technologies associated with 3D printing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200129
Number of pages13
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling Advances
Early online date2 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The project is supported by the UKRI GCRF under Grants EP/T0238721 and EP/T029846/1 and the Royal Academy of Engineering through the Frontiers of Engineering for Development ( FoESFt5\100014 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


  • 3D printing
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Distributed manufacturing
  • Recycling
  • SDGs
  • Waste management


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