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Singapore bolsters global additive manufacturing competency

Posted: 25 Nov 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:additive manufacturing? automotive? medical? manufacturing?

A*STAR has initiated the Industrial Additive Manufacturing (AM) Programme, designed to develop various critical technologies to grow an internationally competitive AM industry. The programme will support the manufacturing sector in Singapore, particularly the aerospace, automotive, oil & gas, marine and precision engineering industries. These industries are evolving into more complex and advanced high-mix, low-volume production, activities that require new technical skills, high-tech processes enabled by deep R&D capabilities. Advanced manufacturing technologies such as AM can help to strengthen Singapore's manufacturing that constitutes 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product in 2012.

The market size of AM is projected to grow five-fold from $2.2 billion in 2012 to an estimated $10.8 billion in 2021, led by automotive, medical and aerospace applications. Although the business outlook for AM is positive and companies are investing in AM capabilities, the lack of materials, process and design engineering know-how is a barrier to mass industry adoption, thus opening a window of opportunity for research.

Additive manufacturing is the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer. Unlike the conventional subtractive manufacturing methodologies, AM offers competitive advantages in geometrical freedom, shortened design to product time, reduction in process steps, mass customisation and material flexibility. This process could revolutionize many sectors of Singapore's manufacturing. AM also simplifies the laborious process of producing complex parts while reducing cost due to its ability to mass customize. It is predisposed to industry sectors that require high-mix, low-volume parts or customized parts, creating higher-value industries and high-quality jobs for Singaporeans.

Under the program, SIMTech will work in close partnership with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), a key research performer in AM technologies, on AM process design and development for direct manufacturing of components. In addition, two other A*STAR research institutes, namely, the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) as well as the Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) will tap on their respective research expertise in materials development as well as modelling and simulation to support the collaboration. Six process technologies have been identified to form the key thrusts of the programme: laser aided additive manufacturing, selective laser melting, electron beam melting, polyjet, selective laser sintering and stereolithography.





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