Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Laboratory to address 3D printing challenges in next $64M phase

The Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Laboratory in Singapore is entering a new phase to help improve the city-state’s manufacturing operations, particularly in the aerospace industry. Additive manufacturing, AI, Data Analytics, Machine Learning and the Internet of Things will all play a part in the facility’s new Phase II funded by S$88 million ($64.8 million USD) from its founding partners.

“The Rolls-Royce@NTU Corp Lab is a fine demonstration of NTU scientists working with the industry to develop relevant solutions to meet real-world issues,” comments Professor Subra Suresh, President of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), “The first phase of research has achieved remarkable success with more than 50 research projects that can create significant impact in the aerospace industry.”

“Building on that success, we are now moving into the second phase with renewed commitment and new projects that will elevate our collaboration to the next level.”

A new way of working toward Industry 4.0

Established in 2013, the Rolls-Royce@NTU Corp Lab is a joint R&D initiative set up by NTU, Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) and British multinational engineering company Rolls-Royce. Over the past six years, for Phase I, the lab has successfully managed 53 research projects for the advancement of aerospace manufacturing. Research topics included power electronics, data analytics, and repair and manufacturing technologies, each of which can be applied to the development of future propulsion systems and other manufacturing operations. One of the outcomes of the collaborative so far is a virtual engine emulator. Powered by AI, this program is capable of analyzing decades of data for new insights into engine performance. In Phase II, a further 29 projects will be launched, working with Industry 4.0 drive technologies. As with the first phase, research will be direct toward five key pillars:

i) Electrical
ii) Manufacturing Technology
iii) Advanced Repair and Materials
iv) Data Analytics and Complex Systems, and
v) Internet of Things (IoT)

“The Corp Lab is an excellent example of the virtues of collaboration, as championed by Rolls-Royce, of seeking diversity to better understand problems when approached with different mindsets and harness the best ideas to come up with the best solutions,” comments Dr. Bicky Bhangu, Rolls-Royce President for Southeast Asia, Pacific & South Korea.

“Conversely, it provides academic minds with a valuable window into industrial problems and be able to work together for a common good. It provides a dynamic platform as we move towards a new way of learning and a new way of working.”

Industry/academia collaboration

This partnership with Rolls-Royce is not the only Corporate Laboratory to be set up by the NRF. As of October 2018, NTU is also home to the HP-NTU Digital Manufacturing Corporate Lab supporting 15 projects for the advancement of 3D printing. These labs have been created to build a closer working relationship between academia and industry. Commenting on the success of the scheme Professor Low Teck Sen, CEO of NRF Singapore, says “The launch of Phase 2 of the Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Laboratory is testament to the good outcomes produced through academia-industry-government partnerships in corporate laboratories in our universities.”

In addition, Professor San explains “NTU researchers have worked alongside Rolls-Royce scientists and engineers on R&D that has direct relevance to the aviation industry. The next stage of their partnership will build on the good progress made, and look into integrating digital technologies and sustainable solutions into flight systems and aerospace parts.”

Officials opening Phase II of the Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Laboratory. Photo via NTU Singapore
Officials opening Phase II of the Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Laboratory. Photo via NTU Singapore

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Featured image shows officials opening Phase II of the Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Laboratory. Photo via NTU Singapore