The Juakaliscope

With deep interest in 3D printed products, Karl Heinz has revolutionized the health and education sector by making the Juakaliscope – a 3D printed microscope which is portable, locally available and accessible at a cheaper price.

The Juakaliscope

The Juakaliscope

After completion of his higher education as a mechanical engineer, he used his knowledge and skills to venture into business. In two years, he has built and distributed his own 3D printers and subsequently started a mass production of Juakaliscopes.

Karl Heinz makes two types of microscopes: the student kit and medical kit, which vary in magnification. He prototypes the microscopes at Gearbox and tests them before mass production.

These microscopes can be used to conduct water tests, medical and livestock diagnosis.

Unlike typical microscopes, the Juakaliscope uses a USB cable to connect to a phone or PC. The specimen is viewed on the screen and preferably sent to a doctor for review or projected for study.

Karl working on the Juakaliscope

Karl working on the Juakaliscope

A spicemen on the Juakaliscope

A spicemen on the Juakaliscope

Karl has been working with Sidai Africa to revolutionize the provision of livestock and veterinary services to farmers in Kenya with the aim of creating a more sustainable service delivery. With this device, farmers can now send their specimen to vets for diagnostic review from the comfort of their farms. Karl aims to extend his reach to Central Africa in the near future.

Changing gears for the fourth Industrial Revolution

Dr. Kamau Gachigi on how makerspaces can catch the fourth industrial revolution wave

In November 2016, I attended a two-day series of meetings of the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on the Future of Production, held in Dubai. At the meeting, Vishal Sikka, the CEO of global giant, Infosys Corporation, said, “Things have never changed so fast in world history and, conversely, will likely never be this slow again”. The changes he was referring to constitute what is described by the World Economic Forum as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Just what exactly is the 4IR? It is characterized by the convergence of the physical, biological and cyber worlds through massive connectivity and massive automation. The previous revolutions brought us steam, electricity and ICT respectively, over a period of about 300 years.

So what does this mean for Africa? At first glance, the broad signs are not good. Africa’s economy is still somewhere amidst the first three industrial revolutions, often closer to the first. Our portion of global trade is said to have dropped to 2% in 2013, from about 3% in the 1970s. There are low levels of skills amongst the working population, and poverty remains widespread. Globalization means that we will be sucked into the effects of the 4IR whether we like it or not, and indeed this is already happening. Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank, gave a speech last year in which he said that the Bank anticipates the loss of up to 85% jobs in countries like Kenya due to automation and the effects of the 4IR.

What averaged statistics about Africa’s economic status don’t tell you is about the specific activities at the far right of the bell curve, only observable at a more granular level, that portend better things.

Gearbox is a space around which a supportive ecosystem for hardware entrepreneurs has been successfully piloted, creating a pipeline of innovators and invention-based businesses by removing the key constraints to developing innovative hardware products in Kenya.

The main constraint from our perspective is the difficulty that most innovators in African countries face in creating high-quality prototypes with which to demonstrate the market value of the hardware innovation through a pilot. Removal of this constraint by providing access to modern fabrication tools on a shared basis can lead to investment opportunities, thereby addressing another significant impediment. A further constraint is the dearth of contract manufacturing facilities. This means that every innovator needs to establish his/her own manufacturing facility in order to meet market demand, which often results in lower competitiveness. There are also significant constraints found further upstream in the production value network. These begin with the creative process itself, with many would-be innovators not having much of an understanding of human-centred design. Even assuming one has mastered that, there are other barriers to competitiveness, such as poor product design that doesn’t lend itself to available manufacturing processes.

Gearbox-second2.jpg

At centres like Gearbox, often called makerspaces, innovators are taught all such methodologies. What’s additionally exciting about makerspaces is that they make modern methods and technologies available not only to engineers, but also to the class of people called makers.

We in Africa are very familiar with people who have engineering in their blood, making all manner of things out of recycled bits and pieces. Many such people can be converted into makers, and this happens when they are taught to use a range of tools that are highly empowering because the engineering capacity is designed into them. Tools such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi enable amateurs, without electronics training or understanding, to make sophisticated prototypes without needing to understand in depth how the innards work. This includes coding, which pervades the electronics underlying much of what makes the 4IR work. Makers only need to understand coding peripherally in order to make powerful and marketable products, such as those used in internet-of-things devices.

I have been really thrilled as I have watched engineers and makers transcend the gaps between a variety of types of productive impotence to produce very presentable working prototypes. A couple of them are enjoying significant revenues from their products already, though mass production in each case still takes place in China.

We have people designing and prototyping speed governor and car-tracking devices, point-of-sale devices, all manner of control systems, and even computer numerical controlled (CNC) machines, such as 3D printers, plasma cutters and routers. The latter machines epitomize digital fabrication in which computer-generated designs are sent to the machine which rapidly and precisely converts them into products. Indeed, we are on the verge of launching our very own made-in-Kenya CNC plasma cutters and wood router into the jua-kali (informal) sector. Imagine that, untrained craftsmen, currently producing crude products, raising their productivity by orders of magnitude through digital fabrication.

Centres such as Gearbox and the FabLabs, disruptive centres of all the types of learning I mention above, should be replicated across Africa. They should be seen by governments as having as much importance as building roads, laying power lines, and building information infrastructure.

We shouldn’t wait for tech transfer via foreign direct investment (FDI), which I see as an unreliable form of trickle-down industrialization (unless very carefully embedded win-win terms are employed). We shouldn’t wait for the few engineers that our funds-constrained governments can educate to translate their knowledge into factories making what we need. Instead, it makes more sense to transform significant swathes of our populations into makers through flexible and abbreviated instruction at makerspaces, which then feed centres of high-level prototyping and eventual contract manufacture.

TEDGlobal: Africa needs more engineers and makers

Source; BBC NEWS

By Jane Wakefield, Technology reporter

Kamau Gachigi said there was a need for more engineers

Kamau Gachigi said there was a need for more engineers

Africa needs more engineers and makers, the head of Gearbox - Nairobi's leading maker-space - has told the TEDGlobal conference in Tanzania. Kamau Gachigi said that by 2050 Africa's population is projected to have doubled and needs to build economies to sustain that level of growth. Digital fabrications labs such as Gearbox are vital to this, he said. Such labs need to start building more Africa-specific hardware, he added.

"These labs help people become more practical and more productive. We need many more people to develop their potential and contribute to the society." He spoke about how young engineer Simon Wachira had used the lab to create a robotic tool that could cut both metal and wood, which is now creating parts for car giant General Motors.

Another project saw 24-year-old Esther help design sanitary towel dispensers which can be put up in schools to avoid the issue of girls missing school when they have their period.

And a third saw a pharmacy student design 3D models of CT scans that surgeons can use to practise operations before they operate on real tumours. "He is making money selling these models to surgeons. It saves up to 60% of operation time and that means insurance companies are interested. He now has a business and doesn't need to go back to university," said Mr Gachigi. 

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-41080479?ocid

Control Systems for Usafi Comfort's Johkasou System

One of the projects Gearbox has handled is the fabrication of Controls Systems for Usafi's Johkasou systems that were being installed in several areas in Nairobi.

The Johkasou System in Karen

The Johkasou System in Karen

Control system in progress

Control system in progress

These control systems were needed for blowers for the Johkasou system, which according to Nia, the Partnership Manager  at Usafi  Comfort, happens to be better than what their manufacturer can produce and therefore is ideal for them.

The sites included Park Villas in Karen, Liza Heights in Kinoo and a single residential in Runda.

The Johkasou system in Kinoo is the biggest project Usafi has handled as it is the biggest of its kind in Kenya. It's a 60m3 system which requires a number of blowers, in this case five blowers.

The Esvendo Project

Esther Mwangi is the founder of Esvendo, a social enterprise that aims at increasing access to sanitary towels through vending machines. Approximately 3 million school days are lost each month due to lack of sanitary towels; these machines tackle this problem by enabling girls purchase sanitary towels via these vending machines. 

During the pilot phase, Esvendo used three kiosk outlets in Kibera and was able to serve 500 users. By introducing custom made vending machines and working with the safe spaces, they expect to reach at least 18,000 girls over one year and sell over 5000 vending machines in two years.

A PURCHASE DEMO

A PURCHASE DEMO

During the pilot phase, Esvendo used three kiosk outlets in Kibera and was able to serve 500 users. By introducing custom made vending machines and working with the safe spaces, they expect to reach at least 18,000 girls over one year and sell over 5000 vending machines in two years.

The Esvendo machine provides sanitary towels to girls  at a low price. With a ten shilling coin, any girl can purchase a sanitary towel.

Esther has already placed an Esvendo machine at Binti Pamoja in Kibera, a community center for young girls. She aims to install another at Darajani near Kibera Girls Soccer Academy and more of them over time.

Esvendo is targeting rural and urban settlement areas that don’t have access to shopping centers, hospitals and schools.Esther aims to promote accessibility of sanitary towels without limitation.

A PURCHASE DEMO

A PURCHASE DEMO

Health Innovations! Makernet Event

From left, Makernet team Anna Lowe, Andrew Lamb, Michael Gathongo, Jessica Berlin & Gearbox Executive Director Dr. Kamau Gachigi

From left, Makernet team Anna Lowe, Andrew Lamb, Michael Gathongo, Jessica Berlin & Gearbox Executive Director Dr. Kamau Gachigi

Some of the devices they have successfully created include kidney trays, fetal scopes, centrifugal tubes, to name a few. These devices have already been tested out in the field.
St.Patrick Health Care Centre in Kayole and Amua Family Health Clinic in Kajiado have been beneficiaries of this initiative.

Sato, a mechanical engineer, explains how his fetal heart-rate monitor device works during the Makernet event

Sato, a mechanical engineer, explains how his fetal heart-rate monitor device works during the Makernet event

Makers in the Health Sector converged at the Gearbox offices on the evening of February 10th to share their inventions which have helped combat some of the issues facing the Health industry in Kenya.
The event was organized by Makernet, a consortium whose main focus is to link makers and maker-spaces to the market.The purpose of the event was to introduce the just-concluded 4-month pilot project whose highlights included making health devices that could be utilized locally. A similar project is already in operation in Nepal.

MAKERNET TEAM MEMBER MICHAEL GATHOGO DEMONSTRATES HOW HE MAKES COPIES OF THE KIDNEY TRAYS USING ACRYLIC MATERIAL. (DEMO)

MAKERNET TEAM MEMBER MICHAEL GATHOGO DEMONSTRATES HOW HE MAKES COPIES OF THE KIDNEY TRAYS USING ACRYLIC MATERIAL. (DEMO)

GEARBOX AT THE 4TH PASET FORUM

The fourth Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) forum took place in Nairobi. The forum was focused on building and strengthtening the capacity for scientific and technical skills in Africa.  HTTP://WWW.WORLDBANK.ORG/EN/PROGRAMS/PASET . The challenges of science and technology in Africa is highlighted by research which shows that programs remain too expensive in most regions making it hard for parents, institutions and governments to invest in facilities, infrastructure and equipment essential for learning and growth. 

The forum brought together representatives from government, and private sector as well as development partners who have been investing in Africa to maximise investments in key sectors.  GEARBOX who is at the center stage of creating an environment that fosters technological innovation actively participated in the forum by showcasing some of the locally manufactured machines and skills of creators, makers and engineers in the Country.  

New Space: Even Better Designs

In a bid to upgrade the skills of the Jua Kali sector, we decided to demonstrate how computer aided design software can be applied to produce everyday products.  The technique improves and ensures consistency on quality of finished products owing to accuracy in assembly of parts  (modular assembly) . It also saves on time spent in production. The sheet metal drawings were done in Inventor and produced on a plasma cutting machine and a sheet metal bender.

This is the beauty of applying CAD and CAM in manufacturing  because we got to work on our final product exactly how we designed it and at our convenience.

Esther and Anastacia (Product Designer) Assembling the table.

Esther and Anastacia (Product Designer) Assembling the table.

wooden parts cut to precision by a CNC Router

wooden parts cut to precision by a CNC Router

After fixing the wooden parts and the wooden table top.

After fixing the wooden parts and the wooden table top.

Complete and functional co working space table .

Complete and functional co working space table .