Nano Sun, a Singapore based start up, has opened a new 3D printing factory that it hopes will have a major impact on water pollution.
The company is a spin-off from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and will use 3D printing to make water filtering membranes. With additive manufacturing these membranes are five time more efficient than the traditional process, that uses polymer and ceramic based membranes.
The Nano Sun manufacturing plant is based in Tuas and has the capacity to 3D print approximately 600 sq m of membranes every day. The water filtering membranes are used by industrial enterprises to remove pollutants from waste water. Early customers include two large multinational semiconductor enterprises based in Singapore. A waste water treatment plant in China, with capacity to process 20 million litres of water per day will also be using the 3D printed membranes.
The Nano Sun team is led by NTU Associate Professor Darren Sun. Prof Sun said, “Imagine a 3D printer that can print these membranes as easily as you can print a Word document. The process requires 10 times less space and 30 times less manpower when compared to the production of traditional membranes. It’s fully automated too.”
While traditional manufacturing methods can require up to 13 steps to produce, 3D printing accomplished the task in a single step. The key is the production of millions of extremely fine strands that can trap and remove pollutants. Millions of these fibres are produced by Nano Sun’s 3D printers and then compressed to form the membranes.
Wong Ann Chai, Nano Sun managing director and co-founder, commented, “Most countries don’t want to pollute their scarce surface water and underground water resources, which is why we’ve clinched a record value of contracts this year.”
To date approximately $6 million has been invested by Nano Sun to open the factory. Additional applications for the technology include kidney dialysis and potential a man-made skin product.
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Featured image shows NTU Assoc Prof Darren Sun (right) with MD Wong Ann Chai with their 3D printed innovative multiuse membrane.