Venezuelan engineers turn plastic trash into car parts amid crisis
By Andreina Aponte and Liamar Ramos CARACAS (Reuters) - Two young engineers have found an opportunity amid a collapsing economy in Venezuela - inside a garbage dump full of broken electronic hardware. They are melting the plastic waste down and feeding it through 3D printers to make intricate pieces such as car parts.
By Andreina Aponte and Liamar Ramos
CARACAS (Reuters) - Two young engineers have found an opportunity amid a collapsing economy in Venezuela - inside a garbage dump full of broken electronic hardware.
They are melting the plastic waste down and feeding it through 3D printers to make intricate pieces such as car parts. These have become increasingly hard to obtain in Venezuela as dysfunctional currency controls restrict the import of basic materials.
Albermar Dominguez and John Naizzir produce only a kilogram of plastic printing filament a day, but they aim to help once-wealthy Venezuela's vanishing manufacturing sector by making it cheaper for companies that depend on expensive imports.
It's a sign of how an unprecedented crisis has spurred some young people to innovate following five years of economic contraction caused by failed state-led policies and a plunge in global oil prices.
"People don't believe that technology is being developed in the country," said Dominguez, 26.
Many of their former classmates at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas have already left Venezuela, joining an exodus of over a million people amid widespread shortages of food and medicine. Annual inflation has hit almost 50,000 percent and Caracas ranks as one of the world's most dangerous cities.
Dominguez said he had visited the United States to learn from people in the 3D printing industry, after becoming interested in recycling waste.
He then returned to Venezuela, and with 27-year-old Naizzir, began rummaging through their university's garbage dump, collecting computer cases and old printers. Later, their company, Nedraki, struck a deal with a recycling plant in the Venezuelan city of Valencia for more material.
While the nation churned with street protests against President Nicolas Maduro in early 2017, the two men produced their first meter of plastic filament.
Nedraki now supplies 13 Venezuelan firms with the filament and produces plastic parts like transmission gear cogs for other companies. The filament is coiled on spools and fed into a 3D printer in a corner of the university's campus.
Dominguez said their filament helps lower costs for a company by up to 40 percent, by removing the expense of importing and transporting the part. Nedraki sells a kilogram of filament for about $17.
They are now trying to encourage other Venezuelan companies to adopt 3D printing technology.
"Despite the very challenging outlook, we receive a lot of support because people take hope from our project."
(Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.