We believe that many of the world's poorest communities are prevented from engaging effectively in trade and building their prosperity by fundamental gaps in the market or breakdowns in value chains.

TechforTrade works at the interface of technology, trade and entrepreneurship. Our Digital Blacksmith initiative is a great example of how TechforTrade is developing innovative technologies and applying them to a trading challenge.   Working with local partners, we are developing the Digital Blacksmith concept into a sustainable social businesses that will create new economic opportunities and improve the lives of the poor.

Bringing fresh thinking to some of the world’s oldest problems.

3D Printing for Development

3D printing could do for distribution what the Internet has done for information

For millions of the world’s poorest people, obtaining basic staple items that we take for granted is simply impossible.  Most developing countries have little local product development or manufacturing capability, while poor infrastructure drives up the cost of imported goods, putting them out of reach.

If a product can be conceived, it can be designed and sent down the wires to a 3D printer anywhere in the world.

Our vision is to release the power of 3D printing by creating a network of sustainable Digital Blacksmith businesses, combining the ethical creation and sale of 3D printing supplies (printers and filament), skills training and, of course, manufacture of goods most needed by their local communities.


TechforTrade is building the 3D Printing for Development ecosystem to support this disruptive innovation


Some of our achievements


The world’s only fully open source 3D printer built in Africa, constructed from e-waste, 3D printed components and parts easily available in developing countries.


A process for manufacturing 3D printer filament from locally sourced waste plastic, using our low cost, open source 'Thunderhead' extruder, designed by TechforTrade.

3D printed products for Science teaching

We have demonstrated the viability of using our 3D printing eco-system by trialling the production and supply of 3D printed science teaching microscopes for use in biology teaching in Nairobi secondary schools. A copy of the trial report is available for download. Schools Digital Microscope Project Trial Implementation Report

Waste to Value


We have started to replicate our 3D printing ecosystem

  • The designs of our Thunderhead PET extruder are freely available under a Creative Commons license 
  • For organisations needing assistance to build the equipment and set up the process, we are making our know-how available on a contract basis.
  • We are currently working with partners on deployments in East & Southern Africa





For more information, contact us at [email protected]

TechforTrade has been supported by

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TechforTrade | Charitable Incorporated Organisation No.1137802