Singapore's drive to develop advanced manufacturing technologies has gained an added boost with the launch by the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR) of the country's Industrial Additive Manufacturing Research Programme.
According to a government statement, "additive manufacturing is the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer".
The high tech process offers competitive advantage in geometrical freedom, shortened design to production time, reduction in process steps, mass customization, and material flexibility.
"This programme aims to develop innovative additive manufacturing technologies and capabilities to transform the manufacturing landscape by introducing such advanced manufacturing techniques," according to the statement which quoted A*STAR Science and Engineering Research Council Executive Director Dr. Tan Geok Leng as saying.
This would greatly heighten the competitiveness of Singapore's manufacturing sector, a sector accounting for 20 % of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012.
This manufacturing process is expected to create higher value industries, resulting in higher quality jobs for Singaporeans.
Taking the lead in the program's implementation will be the A*STAR research institute, the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech).
It will work closely with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) with further collaboration from two more A*STAR research institutes, namely the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and the Institute of High Performance Computing (HPC).
Key areas for the R & D effort will be the following:
- Laser Aided Additive Manufacturing (LAAM)
- Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
- Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLM)
- Stereolithography (SLA)
Singapore's major critical capabilities in additive manufacturing will be established through the integrated development of these technologies, according to the statement.
Technology transfers to Singapore manufacturing will then take place through collaborative research with industry partners for specific advance manufacturing capabilities.
Such collaboration will also involve manpower training in the use of these technologies.
Some of the R & D program's intended beneficiaries are the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, marine, and precision engineering industries.
The market for additive manufacturing capabilities is expected to grow from US $ 2.2 billion in 2012 to around US $10.8 billion in 20121, according to the statement.
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