3D printing has been a big part of Singapore’s industry for a while now, and it’s only growing bigger. As we all know, metal additive manufacturing is one of the fastest-growing segments of the 3D printing industry, and now Singapore has opened its first metal additive manufacturing facility. Local company 3D Metalforge, alongside Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran, opened the 3D Metal Additive Manufacturing Centre (AMC) yesterday, unveiling a facility that will provide a full range of metal 3D printing solutions and services from design and engineering to post-production.
Services will target Singapore’s key industrial sectors, including the oil and gas, marine, precision engineering and construction industries.
“Singapore’s strategic location, pro-business environment, high-technology infrastructure and its intense focus on the additive manufacturing sector to support our economic transformation to Industry 4.0 makes it a logical choice for us to set up our AMC here,” said Matthew Waterhouse, Chief Executive Officer of 3D Metalforge. “Today’s launch underscores 3D Metalforge’s commitment as a homegrown company to deliver end-to-end 3D metal printing solutions to our customers.”
3D printers at the AMC range from large-scale to precision machines for both prototyping and small batch production. In addition, two new technology development agreements were signed at the opening of the facility. 3D Metalforge signed a project collaboration agreement with the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) to develop the country’s first large format Laser Aided Additive Manufacturing (LAAM) technology for industrial applications. The project is being supported and co-funded by the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC), which was launched in 2015.
LAAM is a flexible, efficient additive manufacturing method that uses a high energy laser beam and advanced powder blowing technology for metal powder deposition. In addition to building new parts, it also enables the repair and modification of existing parts. LAAM has one of the largest build areas in metal 3D printing, up to four times larger than the biggest metal powder 3D printers currently on the market. It’s also extremely fast, able to deposit material at a speed of up to 1kg per hour, almost 10 times faster than existing metal 3D printers. The LAAM technology, for which SimTECH has developed the intellectual property, will be implemented at the AMC.
“We are delighted to partner with SIMTech to advance the 3D metal printing capabilities in Singapore,” said Waterhouse. “The LAAM technology will be a gamechanger for the industry. This means that we will be able to produce high quality, large format, cost effective metal parts with first class mechanical properties that not only meets, but exceeds the quality standards for traditionally manufactured parts at our AMC. This will allow key industries such as aerospace, precision engineering, oil and gas, marine and offshore, and automotive to capitalise on the benefits of additive manufacturing.”
LAAM isn’t the only new technology that will be developed at the AMC. 3D Metalforge and NAMIC also signed an agreement with Singapore University of Technology and Design’s Digital Manufacturing and Design Centre to develop and commercialize Hybrid Wired Arc Additive Manufacturing (H-WAAM) technology. H-WAAM uses robotics, plasma and machining technology to 3D print using metal wire, which is up to five times cheaper than metal powder, as a feedstock. It’s also fast – again, up to 10 times faster than powder metal additive manufacturing – and can deliver parts of more than 1.5 meters.
We’ve heard about WAAM before, but H-WAAM adds a hybrid manufacturing component, machining in between deposited layers to improve print quality and deliver a nearer net-shape part. The technology is targeted at industries such as marine, automotive, aerospace, and oil and gas, and supplies a much-needed solution for larger, simpler metal parts.
3D Metalforge, sister company to 3D Matters, one of Singapore’s first commercial 3D printing companies, has invested about S$2.5 million into the AMC and plans to invest an additional S$2 million to S$3 million over the next two years. The company also plans to begin pursuing business in other locations such as Dubai, Indonesia and Qatar. Discuss in the Singapore forum at 3DPB.com.[Sources: Control Engineering Asia / Today Online]