|Ying asking for a show of hands on familiarity with additive manufacturing.|
Those who would like to get on board with 3D printing can easily find resources to help them in Singapore, said Eugene Ying, 3D Sales Manager, Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific during Fuji Xerox DocuWorld in Singapore.
The technology is fast becoming commercialised, Ying noted. He said that Airbus is already using 3D printed parts, for example. The company said in September 2017 that it installed a titanium 3D-printed bracket on an in-series production A350 XWB aircraft. Prior to that, 3D-printed parts like metal printed cabin brackets and bleed pipes had been in use on Airbus A320neo and A350 XWB test aircraft.
|The 4 'C's of 3D printing.|
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is taking off as it can cut costs and lead time in manufacturing applications, Ying explained. He introduced the four 'C's of 3D printing benefits, namely cost of error, compression of time, creativity, and confidentiality. Fewer errors are made with a 3D prototype in hand, as opposed to a virtual model viewed on-screen; any errors can also be rectified quickly by reprinting the model and checking if the model works. The manufacturing and design process is shortened as a result, and everything is kept confidential as the 3D printer is normally on-premise, Ying elaborated.
"Once you've spotted that something is wrong with the design, you can change it straight away," he said. "You can test it immediately."
In Singapore, various institutions are offering help with 3D printing, Ying shared:
The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (Namic)
"All the big guns are coming in to support Namic," Ying said. "You can attend their annual summit to get much more information about additive manufacturing and trends."
This is a centre of excellence set up jointly by the Singapore EDB and Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP). It is located within Nanyang Polytechnic, and offers training for additive manufacturing, Ying said.
An A*Star initiative, the ARTC covers all aspects of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) in the supply chain for the aviation space.
Another A*Star initiative, this organisation helps companies to adopt additive manufacturing.
Singapore Centre of 3D Printing (SC3DP)
This organisation will secure funding to buy new technology so that Singapore organisations can gain experience on it. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students have designed drones with 3D printing from SC3DP for final year projects, Ying said.
The technology has clear use cases in many industries, such as in healthcare, where relatively high-value items which are small and require a lot of customisation can be 3D-printed. Ying listed hearing aids and dental crowns as ideal candidates for 3D-printing, as well as facsimiles of body parts to help surgeons plan operations. A hearing aid that takes nine steps to manufacture traditionally can be done in three steps with 3D printing, he said, with the entire weeks-long process compressed into a day.
"You can't duplicate the part. Everybody's ear is different. Everybody is different," Ying said.
In manufacturing, 3D printing is used for rapid prototyping, as well as parts for various stages in the manufacturing cycle, such as machining and assembly. "The 3D printer gets the job because it cuts manufacturing and design time down," he said.
For the automotive industry, companies such as BMW have switched to 3D-printed parts as they can be customised easily and are lighter, Ying said. BMW stated online that 3D printing has become the absolute standard for prototypes. BMW's website introduces the new BMW i8 Roadster and shares that the mounting for the top cover "would not have been possible using a traditional casting process". "Now the 3D printed car part is stronger and weighs less," BMW said online.
The jewellery industry has also embraced 3D printing as time-consuming, labour-intensive processes can be eliminated, while higher-tolerance variations and more complex geometries can be introduced. "You can keep changing your design," Ying said.
Aerospace players have also invested in 3D-printed parts. In November 2017 Boeing has 3D-printed parts for missiles, helicopters and airplanes. Richard Aston, Senior Technical Fellow at Boeing, said in an article on the Boeing website that "Reduction of piece parts and part weight can be achieved through appropriate implementation of additive manufacturing, while simultaneously improving system performance"."The technology is advancing every day. New applications are identified and new technoloy with new materials for these applications," concluded Ying. "Today it's your idea. Tomorrow you can build it straight away."
The key guiding principle to remember, he said, is to buy a 3D printer from a reputable brand. "Accuracy is very important," he said.
Ying recommended that interested parties attend the Namic Maritime & Energy Summit on 17 April.
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