New $15m fund to develop 3-D printing technologies

A new $15 million programme to develop additive manufacturing - or 3-D printing - technologies was launched Friday morning by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).

3-D printing, refers to the precise process of joining materials layer upon layer to make actual objects from 3-D model data, making it simpler to produce complex parts and lowering costs due to the technology's ability to mass customise.

The programme aims to support and grow the manufacturing sector in Singapore, which constituted 20 per cent of the country's gross domestic product in 2012. Key focuses would be on the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, marine and precision engineering industries, which are increasingly requiring more complex and advanced production.

The $15 million will be split into six projects, three each to be helmed by the Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, the research institute of A*Star. The funding would go towards the procurement of new 3-D printing machinery and support systems, scheduled to be delivered by the start of next year.

The global market size of additive manufacturing is projected to grow five-fold from US$2.2 billion ($2.75 billion) in 2012 to an estimated US$10.8 billion in 2021, led by automotive, medical and aerospace applications, said A*STAR.

The new programme would help mass industry adoption of such advanced manufacturing technology.