In memory of a true visionary – Professor Dimiter Marinov Dimitrov (1944 – 2018)

It was with great sadness that we learned about the passing of Professor Dimiter (Dimitri) Marinov Dimitrov on Thursday 8 November 2018 after a short illness. The timing of his passing was poignant as it happened during the RAPDASA 2018 Conference – an association and conference where he had a great influence.

To me personally it was a great shock, as I am sure it was to many others. I had known Prof Dimitri for many years and when approached to sit on my editorial board for my other magazine – Metalworking News – 18 years ago, without question he was prepared to add his respected name. The confidence he showed in a young and new publisher will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Professor Dimiter Marinov Dimitrov was well known in the manufacturing, academic research and metalworking industry. He strived towards developing new, and improving existing industries through various projects for South Africa and the African continent. To many he was a friend, a colleague, a supervisor, a mentor, a project leader, a manager, a father, a brother and an inspiration.

In 2016 the late Professor Dimiter (Dimitri) Marinov Dimitrov was recognised for his longstanding contribution towards promoting production engineering in South Africa at the inauguration of the Stellenbosch Technology Centre. Mike Saxer, CNC Specialist/Machining Technologist at the IAT is with Prof Dimitri Dimitrov

During his life, he earned significant achievements, both national and international, and built numerous collaborative platforms for research and development. Even until the very end, his projects and the people around him received the highest priority. He was selfless and always wished the best for everyone. Leading purely by example, he would drive and inspire those who had the honour of working with him to continuously aim toward higher levels of diligence and self-improvement. With great humility, he recognised and managed to foster the best in those he worked with. Indeed the manufacturing community has lost a great visionary who, despite all his achievements, remained humble and was never afraid to lend a smile.

Pertaining to the establishment of research and industry development platforms, he was a founding member of the Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa (RAPDASA) and its chairman for two years, a fellow of the Global Alliance of Rapid Prototyping Associations (GARPA), a board member of the Western Cape Tooling Initiative (WCTI), Management Committee member of the Plastics Institute of Southern Africa (PISA), and a member of CIRP, the world leading organisation in production engineering research. He was also the Stellenbosch University representative in the national Titanium Centre of Competence (TiCoC) and piloted the national research programme in machining of titanium alloys. In the Collaborative Programme in Additive Manufacturing (CPAM) he was one of the key players. Furthermore, he managed to bring a fully international research network and knowledge exchange opportunity to South Africa through founding the International Conference on Competitive Manufacturing (COMA).

In 2006 he received the THRIP Excellence Award for manufacturing in the category “SMME development and technology transfer” for the four projects he was leading. In 2010 he received his second THRIP Excellence Award for manufacturing, this time in the category “Research Collaboration” also for projects he was leading. He also received the Fraunhofer Thaler Award 2015 “In recognition of his outstanding leadership and significant achievements in the field of applied research”.

At Stellenbosch University, he co-founded the Global Competitiveness Centre (GCC) in 1997. It was established in alliance with more than 25 industry partners to address the challenges of global competition. In 2000, the Rapid Product Development Labs (RPD) was established and the RPD pioneered the use of 3D printing technology, still in its infancy, in South Africa. Continuously evolving, the Institute for Advanced Tooling was added to the offering as another entity at the Industrial Engineering department at Stellenbosch University in 2007. This was an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and the Technology Innovation Agency to support the tool and die making industry in South Africa and promote sustainable tooling. In late 2015 the Stellenbosch Technology Centre – Laboratory for Advanced Manufacturing (STC-LAM) was established. This would bring all created entities under one umbrella to further support the South African production industry as a whole. The official opening was held on 26 January 2016 with distinguished delegates from around the world. The STC-LAM would be Prof Dimitrov’s crowning achievement and the centre was opened in his honour due to his continued drive and passion in furthering production engineering in South Africa. He was a true visionary who would always push the envelope to achieve the desired outcome.

Professor Dimitrov worked with the Education for Laser-based Manufacturing (ELbM) consortium in single-hearted devotion by deploying his extensive network within Africa and Europe to ensure it is successfully established. The committed involvement of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT), African Laser Centre (ALC), the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research/Laser Enabled Manufacturing Research Group (CSIR/LEM), and Trumpf via Retecon in ELbMs activities, is to the credit of Professor Dimitrov.

His contribution in the body of knowledge is evident by the amount of publications he made in the form of book chapters, journals and conference papers. He also supervised many doctoral and master students, and always aimed at bringing the best out of them. Professor Dimiter Marinov Dimitrov will be remembered as a distinguished scholar and tireless researcher. Those who knew him will surely miss his energy, enthusiasm, and contagious joyful character.