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Additive manufacturing gets Asian boost

Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) has launched the Industrial Additive Manufacturing Programme to develop a number of critical technologies in order to grow an internationally competitive additive manufacturing industry in support of the manufacturing sector in the country. Particular focuses include aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, marine and precision engineering industries.

Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) has launched the Industrial Additive Manufacturing Programme to develop a number of critical technologies in order to grow an internationally competitive additive manufacturing industry in support of the manufacturing sector in the country. Particular focuses include aerospace, automotive, oil and 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 according to A*STAR. "Advanced manufacturing technologies like additive manufacturing can help to strengthen Singapore's manufacturing which constitutes 20 percent of the country's GDP in 2012." As a high income economy, Singapore's proactive economic policies have seen in retain a relatively high level of manufacturing

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Singapore targets an additive manufacturing future.
The global market size of additive manufacturing  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, according to Wohlers Report 2013. Although the business outlook for additive manufacturing  is positive and companies are investing in additive manufacturing  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.

The lack of materials may be in part addressed by a recent development by injection machine manufacturer Arburg, who unveiled an additive manufacturing machine at the recent K Show that uses regular plastic resins called the Freeformer.

The A*STAR-funded program is led by the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), a research institute of A*STAR. Under the program, SIMTech will work in close partnership with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) on additive manufacturing  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 modeling and simulation to support the collaboration. The following six process technologies have been identified to form the key thrusts of the program: laser-aided additive manufacturing (LAAM) for metal components available from companies such as Optomec; selective laser melting (SLM) from  companies such as Renishaw for creating metal components; electron beam melting (EBM) from companies such as Arcam for processing fully dense metal components; Polyjet 3D printing technology from Stratasys; and selective laser sintering (SLS) and stereolithography (SLA) available from companies such as 3D Systems.

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