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First commercial end-to-end 3D metal printing facility opens

First commercial end-to-end 3D metal printing facility opens
Mr S Iswaran (right), Minister of Trade and Industry (Industry), with Mr Matthew Waterhouse (centre), CEO of 3D Metalforge, at the company’s 3D metal printing facility dedicated to commercial use. PHOTO: 3D METALFORGE

First commercial end-to-end 3D metal printing facility opens

SINGAPORE — Homegrown 3D Metalforge opened its 3D metal Additive Manufacturing Centre (AMC) on Wednesday, attended by Mr S Iswaran, Minister of Trade and Industry (Industry). According to the company, the centre is Singapore’s first end-to-end 3D metal printing facility dedicated to commercial and industrial use.

A collaboration signed last year between 3D Matters and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) led to the establishment of 3D Metalforge, which provides metal printing services, said Mr Iswaran.

On Wednesday, the company signed another agreement with SIMTech to collaborate on laser aided additive manufacturing to produce industrial grade metal parts cheaper and faster.

3D Metalforge also signed an agreement with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster and Singapore University of Technology and Design’s Digital Manufacturing and Design Centre to jointly develop and commercialise 3D metal printing technologies for large format metal printed parts in Singapore.

The projects will allow 3D Metalforge to leverage laser technology to further unlock opportunities in the marine and offshore, oil and gas and precision engineering sectors, where such industrial-sized metal parts are currently typically sourced from vendors overseas.

“As the nature of manufacturing evolves rapidly, the Government will continue to invest in advanced manufacturing technologies and encourage collaborations between our research agencies and industry partners, so as to build the deep capabilities needed for our companies to innovate and tap new opportunities for competitiveness and growth,” Mr Iswaran said.

As part of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan, the Government is committing S$3.2 billion over 2016-2020 to develop technological capabilities in the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering domain. Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a key enabling technology that is part of the plan.

Mr Iswaran highlighted that AM worldwide revenues doubled from US$3 billion (S$4.2 billion) in 2013 to US$6 billion last year.

Laser aided AM technology will be a gamechanger for the industry, said Mr Matthew Waterhouse, CEO of 3D Metalforge.

It will enable production of large format, cost-effective metal parts that “not only meets, but exceeds the quality standards for traditionally manufactured parts at our AMC”.

“This will allow key industries such as aerospace, precision engineering, oil and gas, marine and offshore, and automotive to capitalise on the benefits of additive manufacturing,” Mr Waterhouse said at the event.

He noted, however, that getting enough skilled people with 3D engineering and design capabilities, as well as encouraging companies to adopt such technologies are key challenges.

The company has invested some S$2.5 million in the facility and plans to invest an additional S$2 million to S$3 million over the next two years. With its base in Singapore, 3D Metalforge is also planning to venture into new markets like Indonesia, Dubai and Qatar.

“We will look for markets that support sophisticated and high value manufacturing,” Mr Waterhouse added. RUMI HARDASMALANI