NAMIC Emerging Applications for Additive Manufacturing Summit in Singapore

This week the 4th edition of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) summit in Singapore brought together 3D printing experts from across the region and beyond.

NAMIC are a government funded program based at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore). NAMIC is supported by the National Research Foundation, together with SPRING Singapore and the Singapore Economic Development Board. The innovation cluster “aims to increase Singapore’s adoption of additive manufacturing technologies to enhance competitiveness in the rapidly evolving landscape of digital industrialisation.” NAMIC has a project pipeline of more than $12.5M.

“A catalyst for advanced manufacturing”

NAMIC Managing Director Dr Ho Chaw Sing opened Tuesday’s event at Raffles City conference center by saying that “never before has such technology had such potential for change.”

Introducing the theme of 3D design at the summit Dr. Ho explained that while technology can sometimes fail to inspire people, the combination of art – or outstanding design – and technology brings with it greater potential for inspiration.

Mr. Teng Theng Dar, Chairman of Regina Global Holdings Pte Ltd and Non Resident Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman was a guest of honor and said that additive manufacturing represented, “A new dawn for a better quality of life.” Mr. Dar stated that 3D printing should serve as a catalyst for advanced manufacturing in Singapore.

I attended the Namic summit to learn more about how the region plans to adopt 3D printing and also to moderate several panels at the conference.

L-R, Michael Petch, Dr. Hossein Rezai, Prof Thomas Schroepfer and Dr. Jacky Chung.
L-R, Michael Petch, Dr. Hossein Rezai, Prof Thomas Schroepfer and Dr. Jacky Chung.

3D printing for construction

The first panel addressed the growing use of 3D printing for construction. As Dr. Jacky Chung from National University of Singapore explained to me 3D printing is particularly attractive as a building method in a country like Singapore where space is at a premium.

Willy Ng, co-founder Hamilton Labs and Dr. Shyam Anand Jha, founder secretary of the Centre for Rural Information and Action, also delivered a presentation on how their organisation are working in India to bring access to sanitation to many in the country. With a deadline coinciding with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in 2019, the undertaking is substantial, and is used 3D printing for construction to meet this objective.

Other large scale projects raised during the conference included the signing of a memorandum of understanding between NAMIC, Singapore Armed Forces, and HQ Maintenance Engineers Support. This will see further investigation into how 3D printing can be used to supply or service important equipment in the military.

Representatives of SAF and HQ MES. Photo by Michael Petch.
Representatives of SAF and HQ MES. Photo by Michael Petch.

As previously reported NAMIC has also signed another recent MOU with, SEMBCORP Marine, DNV GL, A*Star’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC).

A range of exhibitors were present at the event including 3D Systems, Baelf Design, and Elements Lab.

Point of consumption a new mega-trend

Bioprinting was discussed at length by Wai Yee Yeong, assistant professor School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. While away from the stage I had many illuminating conversations with delegates including Paul Guillaumot, CEO of SpareParts3D – who recently assisted Electrolux.

While Singapore is not a manufacturing hub, the sheer number of cargo ships navigating the Strait of Malacca, illustrates the importance of trade and manufacturing in the region. Additive manufacturing is viewed as an opportunity to not only capture some of the high value manufacturing benefits – in common with a recent AM UK report – but also to take part in a new type of trade.

Cargo ships in the sea off the coast in Singapore. Photo by Michael Petch.
Cargo ships in the sea off the coast in Singapore. Photo by Michael Petch.

As guest of honour Mr. Teng Theng Dar said in his keynote address, Singapore designers can now see the results of their work manufactured across the world. The long sea voyage of traditional cargo could – in some cases – become redundant with “point of consumption” manufacturing becoming a reality.

With NAMIC planning further summits for 2018, the additive manufacturing cluster will be key to putting this vision into practice.

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