Singapore launches national cluster to help companies tap on 3D printing technologies

Led by NTUitive, and in partnership with SPRING Singapore and EDB, the cluster has successfully established joint funding for 39 joint projects between companies and academic research institutions.

By Kareyst Lin
Jan. 25, 2017

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Singapore's National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) was launched on 23 January 2017 by Loh Khum Yean, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The ceremony also kicked off the cluster's inaugural Additive Manufacturing Summit.

NAMIC is led by Nanyang Technological University (NTU)'s innovative and enterprise company NTUitive, in partnership with SPRING Singapore and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), according to a press statement by NTU on 23 January. Its three founding members are NTU, National University of Singapore (NUS), and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

Formed in 2016 by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore and SPRING Singapore, NAMIC has reached out to about 400 local and international companies to help them adopt additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) as part of their business.

NAMIC has also successfully established joint funding for 39 joint projects between companies and academic research institutions. It has 80 more projects in the pipeline.

The response received from companies has been positive, despite the use of 3D printing for industrial uses still being in its infancy, said Ho Chaw Sing, NAMIC's Managing Director. "While 3D printing has taken off for customised products in the aerospace and biomedical industries, many local companies still find the barrier of entry quite high, due to the costly printers and lack of expertise in additive manufacturing," Ho explained.

"Our objectives are to reach, educate and help link these companies to scientists and engineers at research institutes, who already have existing 3D printing machines and the technical know-how. This way, we ensure that the innovative solutions developed through research will meet real business needs," Ho said.  

Disruptive innovations for manufacturing

One example of meeting industry needs is the partnership between NTU's Singapore Centre for 3D Printing and global inventions company Intellectual Ventures (IV), to develop a foolproof approach to authenticate 3D printed products.

With support from NAMIC and IV's Invention Science Fund, NTU scientists have developed a unique identifier coding that can be embedded during the 3D printing process. This is similar to how authentic products have unique barcodes.

Demonstrated of 3D printed stainless steel prototypes, this Embedded Identifier Module (EIM) is impossible to remove or alter, and can be easily read by commercially available scanners and readers.

This technology can help safeguard product authenticity for companies and help tackle issues relating to counterfeiting as the market adopts on-demand manufacturing through the digital supply chain.