A*Star Programme Paves The Way For A Future-Ready Manufacturing Industry In Singapore

SINGAPORE, November 22, 2013 — (PRNewswire) —

Industrial Additive Manufacturing Research Programme to enable direct manufacturing of high performance industrial grade components

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) has launched the Industrial Additive Manufacturing (AM) Programme to develop a number of critical technologies to grow an internationally competitive AM industry in support of 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 like AM can help to strengthen Singapore's manufacturing which constitutes 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product in 2012.  

The market size of AM is projected to grow five-fold from US$2.2 billion in 2012 to an estimated US$10.8 billion in 2021, led by automotive, medical and aerospace applications[1]. 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 revolutionise 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 customise. It is predisposed to industry sectors that require high-mix, low-volume parts or customised parts, creating higher-value industries and high-quality jobs for Singaporeans.  

The A*STAR-funded programme is led by the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), a research institute of A*STAR. Under the programme, 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. The following six process technologies have been identified to form the key thrusts of the programme (see Annex 2 for details):

  • Laser Aided Additive Manufacturing (LAAM)
  • Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
  • Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
  • Polyjet
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  • Stereolithography (SLA)


1. Source: Wohlers Report 2013, Wohler Associates, Inc.

Through the integrated development of these technologies, the major critical AM capabilities will be established. The developed technologies will be transferred to the Singapore manufacturing industry through collaborative industrial research, where industry partners participate to develop specific AM technology capabilities, and manpower training.

Dr Tan Geok Leng, Executive Director of A*STAR's Science and Engineering Research Council, said, "This programme aims to develop innovative additive manufacturing technologies and capabilities to transform the manufacturing landscape of Singapore, and rejuvenate the manufacturing workforce by introducing such advanced manufacturing techniques. Singapore is already well positioned to respond to the needs of this new growth area with its established sectors such as the precision engineering and aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industries as the lead demand drivers." 

NTU's Dean of Engineering, Professor Ng Wun Jern, said the new programme will benefit Singapore companies by providing critical support for those looking to scale up and integrate additive manufacturing into their processes.

"Understanding industry needs and developing innovative solutions is key to keeping Singapore's competitive edge in today's high-tech manufacturing sector. The Industrial Additive Manufacturing Programme will leverage upon NTU's strengths in engineering and its long history of industry linkages and collaborations," said Prof Ng. "NTU and A*STAR are well-placed to make this new programme a success. Together, we are poised to support our industry's move into next generation manufacturing."


Annex 1: Corporate Profiles

Annex 2: Information on the six 3D Additive Manufacturing Programmes of A*STAR    

Annex 1


About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that fosters world-class scientific research and talent to drive economic growth and transform Singapore into a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation driven economy.

In line with its mission-oriented mandate, A*STAR  spearheads research and development in fields that are essential to growing Singapore's manufacturing sector and catalysing new growth industries. A*STAR supports these economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry.

A*STAR oversees 20 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities, located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis as well as their vicinity. These two R&D hubs house a bustling and diverse community of local and international research scientists and engineers from A*STAR's research entities as well as a growing number of corporate laboratories.

Please visit http://www.a-star.edu.sg

About the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech)

The Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) is a research institute of the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

SIMTech develops high value manufacturing technology and human capital to contribute to the competitiveness of the Singapore industry. It collaborates with multinational and local companies in the precision engineering, electronics, semiconductor, medical technology, aerospace, automotive, marine, logistics and other sectors.

For more info: http://www.SIMTech.a-star.edu.sg

About Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).

A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.

Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore's science and tech hub, one-north, and a third campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.

For more information, visit http://www.ntu.edu.sg

Annex 2

Information on the six 3D Additive Manufacturing Programmes of A*STAR        

Laser Aided Additive Manufacturing (LAAM): LAAM is a technology for fabricating metal parts directly from a computer-aided design (CAD) solid model by using a metal powder injected into a molten pool created by a focused, high-powered laser beam. Currently, LAAM is mainly used for repair and remanufacturing of various components, and hardly used for direct manufacturing parts for actual applications. In this work package, the team will deploy LAAM to manufacture large format 3D down-hole components for the first time. With the success, the technology can be widely used in oil & gas, aerospace, heavy vehicle, and mould & die inserts.  

Selective Laser Melting (SLM): SLM is a laser-based 3D AM technique that builds objects layer upon layer from powders using computer-aided design (CAD) models. In the SLM process, support structures are often needed to build overhang structures, but the use of support structures complicates part geometry and surface quality. In this work package, the team will develop a novel algorithm for manipulating mass distribution to eliminate/reduce the use of support structures. In addition, novel materials will be developed with superior mechanical properties. It is envisioned that the technology will be widely used for manufacturing complex components in oil & gas, marine, aerospace, precision engineering and general manufacturing industries.

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