SINGAPORE - Manufacturers in Singapore which use metal powders for three-dimensional (3D) printing can receive further support after a three-year extension was inked on Friday (Dec 3) between the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*Star) Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and Hitachi Metals Singapore (HMS) for their joint lab collaboration.
The SIMTech-Hitachi Metals joint lab will also get an additional $8.5 million from the two partners, bringing the total amount invested to $14 million since the tie-up started in 2018.
According to Dr Yusaku Maruno, head of Hitachi's Materials Solution Centre in Singapore, 3D printing, which is also known as additive manufacturing, uses metal powders made for traditional manufacturing processes.
He said: "During this three-year collaboration, we found that the quality of the materials used in 3D printing is very important to achieve a high-quality end product.
"With conventional materials, there are limitations."
Dr Maruno added that 3D printing has wide applications, including in the aerospace and automotive industries, oil and gas sector, and semiconductor manufacturing.
Dr Sharon Nai, acting research division director at SIMTech, said that over the past three years, the lab has established methods to optimise the use of metal powders for 3D printing and developed end-to-end 3D printing solutions.
Dr Nai added: "We (the joint lab) have looked at developing end-to-end 3D printing solutions for Hitachi Metals' components to meet their industrial application needs."
Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng was at Hitachi Metals' plant in Pioneer to witness the signing ceremony marking the joint lab's extension.
Dr Tan said that businesses must innovate to stay competitive and resilient when faced with the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added: "This joint lab collaboration between HMS and A*Star's SIMTech is an example of a public-private partnership that spurs innovation."
Situated at Hitachi's facility, the joint lab features an atomiser from SIMTech which can produce reactive and non-reactive powders.
It can produce these powders in smaller quantities for companies that are developing their 3D-printing capabilities.
SIMTech executive director David Low said: "3D printing allows for highly customisable and complex designs to be made without the initial start-up costs that come with traditional manufacturing processes.
"With supply chains around the world now facing difficulties, 3D printing may come into play to help with these chokes along the supply chain."