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Asean opportunities for Singapore in additive manufacturing: specialists

SINGAPORE can collaborate with Asean neighbours on additive manufacturing (AM) or industrial 3D printing, which is expected to generate US$100 billion in value in the region by 2025, said specialists at an event held by German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp on Tuesday.

Established local industries such as petrochemicals - with its expertise in materials - and testing and certification can aid the development of AM in Singapore. Beyond that, there are many opportunities to collaborate across Asean, which will increasingly become an important manufacturing base for companies from elsewhere, said Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) assistant managing director Lim Kok Kiang.

One role Singapore could play is in exporting its model for the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (Namic), which helps to link up industry, research and public agencies for AM projects, said Namic managing director Ho Chaw Sing. The city can also serve as a test bed for showcase projects, curating partners for large initiatives that will demonstrate the value of AM, he added.

Another possibility is for Singapore to take a position as a service centre for the region, said panellist Sastry Kandukuri, global AM lead at risk management and quality assurance services provider DNV GL.

As more manufacturing activities move to neighbouring countries, Singapore can support the rise of AM in the region by being Asean's knowledge centre or design hub, providing services such as product development and research, added Dr Ho.

Thyssenkrupp's white paper on the potential of AM in Asean, launched that day, estimates that the technology could also create three to four million jobs in Asean by 2030, and reduce the region's imports by US$30 billion to US$50 billion. Though Asia-Pacific represents about 30 per cent of the global AM market, Asean accounts for only 5 to 7 per cent of Asia-Pacific AM spending.

The event also marked the official launch of Thyssenkrupp's AM TechCenter Hub in Singapore, which will serve as the regional hub for the company's existing Mülheim TechCenter in Germany. It will focus on AM solutions in metal and plastic technologies for customers in marine and offshore, automotive, cement, chemical, mining and other heavy industries.

Starting off within Thyssenkrupp's Singapore office, headed by a newly hired head of AM in Singapore, the TechCenter will be gradually built up over time based on customer needs, said a Thyssenkrupp spokesman.

The TechCenter is supported by the EDB, following the signing of a memorandum of agreement in April at the Hannover Messe trade show.