Prof Stephen Matope helps building the future through additive manufacturing

Prof Stephen Matope helps building the future through additive manufacturing

Prof Stephen Matope from the Department of Industrial Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch University delivered his inaugural lecture on Thursday, 4 April 2024. The title of the lecture was “Additive manufacturing: A game changer in advanced manufacturing engineering”.

Matope spoke to the Corporate Communication and Marketing Division about how his research on additive manufacturing or 3D printing helps to produce advanced tools used in the production of engineering components for the manufacturing industry.

Tell us more about your research and why you became interested in this specific field.

My research centres on the processes and systems used in advanced manufacturing. I have a great interest in advanced manufacturing engineering, especially additive manufacturing, because it affords better customisation and shorter lead times in the manufacturing of intricate and complex geometries of engineering products. Prof Dimitri Dimitrov, a guru in additive manufacturing, also inspired me to have a deeper interest in the field when I co-supervised PhD students with him.

How would you describe the relevance of your work?

My work in additive manufacturing is relevant to the manufacturing industry in that it produces advanced tools used in the production of engineering components, for example, in the case of plastic moulding and metal forming operations.

Your work focuses on additive manufacturing or 3D printing. What are some of the real-world applications of your research?

It is applied in the manufacturing of tools, e.g. punches (pointed steel tools used to indent or create a hole through a hard surface), which are used in hot forming of vehicle body parts and dies (tools or devices for imparting a desired shape, form, or finish to a material), and punches that are used in the moulding of plastic.

It is also used in the manufacture of aerospace components, for example fuel nozzles and turbine blades.

You have spent many years in the challenging environment of higher education. What keeps you motivated when things get tough?

My passion for research and teaching my students manufacturing engineering modules keeps me going. I experience great joy when my students pass their undergraduate studies when I have taught them, or when I have supervised them in the case of postgraduate studies. I have supervised one postdoctoral fellow, ten PhD students and over 70 MEng and BEng students in their company-based Industrial Engineering projects. With my students, I have carried out over 60 industry-based engineering projects at South African manufacturing companies.

What aspects of your work do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy face-to-face lecturing.

Tell us something exciting about yourself that people would not expect.

I am also a preacher and a marriage officer.

How do you spend your free time?

Sight-seeing with my family.

  • Click here for more on Prof Stephen Matope’s academic journey

Photograph: (from left to right) Prof Joubert van Eeden (Chair: Department of Industrial Engineering), Prof Sibusiso Moyo (Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research), Prof Stephen Matope, Prof Celeste Viljoen (Acting Dean: Faculty of Engineering) and Prof Corne Schutte (Vise-Dean: Research).