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Stratasys seeks wider reach in Asia with SG facility

Posted: 09 Oct 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:additive manufacturing? 3D printing? rapid prototyping? rapid manufacturing?

How come 3D printing, which broke into the technology scene way back in the late 1980s, is suddenly all the rage now? Cost is seen as the biggest driver for its widespread adoption. Research firm Gartner issued a report last week estimating that worldwide shipments of 3D printers (3DPs) priced less than $100,000 will grow 49 per cent this year alone to reach a total of 56,507 units (see 3D printing innovations drive enterprise, consumer demand).

Known also as 'additive machines,' these devices use a variety of laser-based printing techniques to build up models layer by layer, offering a range of advantages over traditional manufacturing techniques such as eliminating tooling costs and steep expenses for raw materials.

Since a significant chunk of the world's manufacturing operations is entered in Asia, it is no surprise that major players in the region are eyeing the benefits offered by 3D printing. Research facilities and expertise here in the Asia-Pacific, specifically Japan, China, and, more recently, Singapore, are quickly being tapped by U.S. and Europe-based companies to further hone their additive manufacturing capabilities.

One such company is Stratasys, which opened its seventh facility in Asia late September with a new office in Singapore. The company has been doing business in Southeast Asia for several years and now with the increasing attention on 3D printing, Stratasys sees more opportunities for growth, Marketing Director Vicki Kei told EE Times Asia. Kei added, "We have close to 10 channel partners we currently work with and all of them have excellent product and technology knowledge around rapid manufacturing."

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Apart from the availability of engineering talent in Singapore, Stratasys will take advantage of the country's "Future of Manufacturing" programme wherein the government pledged over $400 million for the development and utilisation of advanced technologies for various industries. "We do need to look at multiple aspects including engineering, chemical, electronics, and sustainability. The protection of IP in high-technology market is seen also as a defining factor. Singapore is one of the top countries which has a sound and comprehensive business environment to serve the purpose," Kei explained.

The majority of applications in the 3D printing sector centres on rapid prototyping. However, rapid manufacturing is quickly gaining traction, especially in Asia, because companies mostly require low volume production or mass customisation. 3D printing is much more cost effective than traditional methods like injection moulding.

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