SMEs can access high-end manufacturing tools with new government scheme

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade & Industry and National Development Dr Koh Poh Koon (right) toured the Industrial Additive Manufacturing Facility (IAMF), and was briefed on the various additive manufacturing technologies made available at
Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade & Industry and National Development Dr Koh Poh Koon (right) toured the Industrial Additive Manufacturing Facility (IAMF), and was briefed on the various additive manufacturing technologies made available at the Facility.PHOTO: A*STAR

SINGAPORE - A scheme to connect smaller advanced manufacturing businesses with state-of-the-art government hardware was launched on Friday (Sept 8) morning, along with a brand-new facility to house the technology.

Equipment such as robotised 3D scanners and laser powder beds will now be made available to companies looking to build their technical capabilities and train workers in the use of such machines.

The Tech Access Initiative, first announced in February with other Budget news, was unveiled at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star)'s new Industrial Additive Manufacturing Facility.

A*Star is partnering the Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association (SPETA) and the Singapore Manufacturing Federation to promote the programme to industry players.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, said at the launch: "To remain competitive in the changing manufacturing landscape, our SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) need to deepen their innovation capabilities and tap the opportunities from advanced manufacturing technologies."

The scheme could help to bridge the gap for smaller companies who do not yet have the resources to take on advanced manufacturing technologies, he said.

The participating SMEs will not only get to play with the equipment and receive technical advice, but will also be able to acquire the tools to scale up and expand their businesses.

Advanced additive manufacturing - the focus of the new 6,100 square foot A*Star facility that houses some of the Tech Access Initiative equipment - lets sectors such as the precision engineering, aerospace and marine and offshore industries produce complex metal parts like never before.

Other Tech Access Initiative tools will be stored at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, both of which centres will play host to upcoming A*Star model factories for companies to learn and prototype.

SPETA executive director Steven Koh said in a statement: "We are glad to be the first trade association on board the Tech Access Initiative, as A*Star's high-tech equipment, technologies and facilities will now be more accessible to our members so they can improve their manufacturing processes."