From equipment and spare parts in the aerospace, defence and auto industries to biomedicine and even food, 3D printing technology is no longer just a passion for hobbyists, but a field which is fast becoming a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing processes in various industries. This has led to reduced complexity and shorter manufacturing lead times to the creation of complex parts that are not feasible to manufacture using conventional processes. Also known as “additive manufacturing”, 3D printing is one of the cutting-edge manufacturing technologies incorporated under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan – which is Singapore’s 6th roadmap for research and development.
Supported by its strategic location, Singapore offers easy accessibility for U.S. manufacturing companies to enter the ASEAN region. In fact, the manufacturing sector contributes around 20 % of Singapore’s GDP and is expected to remain a key driver in the country’s economic growth. 3D printing has been highlighted by the Singapore Government as an area of expertise with vast potential with an extensive range of applications.With Singapore’s position as a globally competitive manufacturing hub, unique research ecosystem and skilled workforce; 3D printing is gaining traction at a fast pace which has resulted in initiatives like NAMIC (National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster) to speed up the development and place the city-state as the regional leader in this space.
Overview and Trends
3D printing draws comparisons to traditional printing and is transforming the manufacturing process – shifting it closer to consumption, decreasing its cost as well as improving quality at the same time. It is now responsible for fabricating a plethora of commercial and industrial parts and components. International Data Corporation estimates that Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) will spend close to USD 2.7 billion in this market, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.4 % from 2017 to 2022, further driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Interest among different industries has grown with major support from the private sector and there is great emphasis placed to the evolving 3D printing industry. NAMIC has allocated close to USD 100 million to research & development and applications of 3D printing. Additionally, Singapore government has also announced the allocation of around USD 370 million to boost capabilities in additive manufacturing over the next five years. In addition, US-based safety solutions company Underwriters Laboratories announced last September that it has invested USD 8 million to open a Global Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in Singapore, which will be focusing on training, material and process qualifications as well as advisory and research in 3D printing. As such, the Singapore additive manufacturing industry has seen many collaborations and innovations over the past 2-3 years and is set for further growth supported by new and upcoming trends.
New materials result in the emergence of opportunities and this keeps 3D printing on the cutting edge. Manufacturers are focusing on significant resources to bring new materials to market as the range of suitable materials continue to alter due to advances in technology. With end users starting to demand products with higher quality, flexibility to change and customizations; the number of compatible materials will continue to increase. Durable and flexible materials will most likely gain popularity in the upcoming years.
Singapore is among the top three largest recipients of U.S. FDI, Foreign Direct Investment in Asia and by having a goal for a technology-intensive digital manufacturing hub, it opens up a wide range of opportunities and attract companies to do business here. By adopting 3D printing, there will be greater sustainability through reduced production waste and by bringing production closer to consumers. Furthermore, this sector allowed for jobs creation, increased productivity growth and it also aids in generating positive spill overs for the rest of the industries. Lastly, demand for 3D printing will continue to increase as it is an alternative to traditional manufacturing.
Source of this feature is Singapore’s Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre.
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