Lagos is a city bustling with a pulsating youthful energy and storied traffic jams! For those of us who live, breathe and work in Lagos, we have mastered the art of putting on our gangster driving skills when needed. That was exactly what I was did as I meandered my way to Lagos GE Garages, a pop up innovation hub going on through July 11.
In March 2012, General Electric’s GE Garages began in the U.S. as a national programme designed to reinvigorate America’s pioneering spirit and interests in invention, innovation, and manufacturing. The GE Garages programme is now a global tour designed to educate and inspire inquisitive minds and industry pioneers about the latest developments in health, oil and gas, manufacturing and construction. Participants who visit GE Garages will have a chance to meet GE’s technical experts and partners to learn more about advanced techniques and equipment geared toward in enhancing the manufacturing and production processes. It refreshing that GE Garages chose Lagos as its first port of call outside the U.S., providing an opportunity to expose the commercial nerve center of Africa’s largest economy to exhibitions, technical sessions and workshops.
Learn more about the Garages program in Lagos
The Exhibition space had the look of a factory equipment dispersed all around a cocktail party. The machines I had long heard about were spread around the exhibition space to ease footfall traffic. GE Garages has an awesome program manager in Johnny Falla who with a lot of zest and friendliness provided a brief overview of the GE Garages and introductions to the equipment. Once the official introductions were done, I wandered off on my own personal exploration.
There were visitors to the exhibition space from several industries and GE’s technical partners provided a walk through. I had a chance to meet Segun and Chika from GE Nigeria, Delphina from GE Ghana and Anthony from GE South Africa who were all around to ensure visitors were also comfortable around the equipment. I also had the opportunity to see the 3D printers, CNC mills and laser cutters, all at work on several projects.
The 3D printer is essentially a printer that creates three-dimensional objects from a 3D model scanned or designed on a computer. The 3D printers can be used to build plastic models of just about anything! We we had fun trying out elephants, skeletal models, architectural models, the famed Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Abuja Central Mosque.
Imagine if the designers of the mosque could develop this before going into construction. It is an interesting proposition to any architect or engineer. With your 3D designed models, all you need do is send your data to the printer and it goes to work, delivering the model into your hands. This is a progression from the usual 3D modelling and way more effective and simpler than manually constructed cardboard models!
While a 3D printer builds by adding layers of plastic that eventually evolves into a 3D object, the CNC miller builds by taking away. It uses a rotatory milling cutter to remove material from the surface of a work piece. When information is sent into it, it uses its printing heads to carve out the model from the predefined product.
Speaking with Oladapo Oyewunmi, a mechanical engineer who lives and works in Lagos, I was excited about the possibilities that this tools brings into the world of prototype building and modelling. This completely helps your project. Once you have an idea and are ready to move into the development stage, you can use the 3D printer to develop your prototypes, especially if they are in component and are able to fit them together. This is not just about sharing engineering drawings on paper, you can literally hold the prototype in your hands.
Now the laser presents a different possibility. Its technology allows the user to print and cut out materials, and is typically used for industrial manufacturing applications. It works by using a high-powered laser beam to carve out shapes, designs, models from just about anything – wood, metal and plastic.
There has been a lot of buzz around creating software, apps and digital innovation. GE Garages brings the physical spin to digital innovation – we also need to create stuff we can hold, use and behold. If you love creating or are excited by the possibilities of technology, you should visit before GE Garages moves on to another part of the continent. Technology is making business processes faster, simpler and more effective and it doesn’t matter the industry, health, manufacturing, construction. At the intersection of imagining these products and creating them, GE hopes to live and breathe there.
Check out the schedule of events for the GE Garage Lagos here!
Deola Kayode lives at the intersection of social culture, brand marketing and digital technology. He loves talking about brands, social media and politics. If you are always on, holla him on Twitter @delola. and by email at deolakayode(at)gmail.com.