ST Engineering and Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), a unit of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), have teamed up in a three-year research programme to co-develop additive manufacturing (AM) processes for applications in aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO). The collaboration aims to enhance end-to-end AM processes in manufacturing aerospace parts and components, with the long-term view to extend these enhancements to other industries where applicable and strengthen Singapore’s innovation ecosystem in AM.
Earlier in October, ST Engineering announced a first-of-its-kind research collaboration model, named Research Translation@ST Engineering, aimed at fostering a stronger working relationship between ST Engineering and its partners to drive impactful translation of research that meets fast-evolving market needs and customer demands. The AM research programme with A*STAR’s SIMTech is among the first few collaborations that ST Engineering is embarking on under Research Translation@ST Engineering.
In the initial phase, the AM research programme will focus on research and development in three key areas:
- Feedstock material management and qualification;
- Process improvement and qualification; and
- Post-process enhancement to AM products.
At the end of the research and development phase, the programme will move into commercialisation to translate the research outcomes into industrial practices. Part of the commercialisation plan involves identifying suitable SMEs, and transferring knowledge of the findings from this research collaboration to them so that they can have the technical capabilities to provide these services commercially in Singapore and regionally.
In teaming up for the AM research programme, A*STAR’s SIMTech and ST Engineering will pool their complementary strengths in engineering, research and development and industrial knowledge. A*STAR’s Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) will also contribute capabilities to the programme. As a leading global aerospace solutions provider and early adopter of AM technologies, ST Engineering contributes with its deep engineering expertise and commercial aerospace experience to produce impactful results that match the aerospace market’s demand, as well as to support the industrialisation of research outcomes. A*STAR’s SIMTech and ARTC bring rich technical expertise in AM as well as state-of-the-art facilities and resources to develop research for industry applications and facilitate knowledge transfer.
Jeffrey Lam, President of Commercial Aerospace at ST Engineering, says, “As the aviation industry moves towards greener practices to reduce carbon footprint, we see additive manufacturing, with its potential for zero waste and ability to create lighter yet stronger and more enduring parts, as key in supporting this transition. Our collaboration with SIMTech will allow us to build on our existing capabilities in additive manufacturing, leading to greater cost efficiency and broader applications across more products, and helping to address our customers’ increasing needs for sustainable parts replacement and manufacturing solutions.”
Dr David Low, Executive Director of SIMTech and Chief Executive Officer of ARTC at A*STAR, said, “In recent years, additive manufacturing technologies and capabilities have advanced significantly. Our collaboration with ST Engineering will help to drive further translation to industrial applications by offering performance, cost and sustainability benefits unique to additive manufacturing. Public-private partnerships such as this collaboration continue to play a key role in encouraging local businesses to innovate and adopt advanced manufacturing technologies to become more competitive. We are excited to co-create solutions with ST Engineering for the additive manufacturing ecosystem in Singapore.”
Additive manufacturing is a highly automated manufacturing process with rich technology content, suitable for managing high-mix low-volume production with a lean setup. Technical challenges such as expensive feedstock materials, inefficient printing processes, qualification of the AM process and lack of cost-effective post-processing solutions impede not only widespread adoption, but also serve as barriers to entry. Through this joint research programme, ST Engineering and A*STAR’s SIMTech aim to also help lower these barriers to entry and facilitate the greater use of AM in Aerospace MRO and other sectors that will stand to benefit from it.