SINGAPORE: The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) inked a deal on Wednesday (Oct 17) to build the world’s first maritime 3D printing facility at PSA’s Pasir Panjang Terminal.
The facility will use additive manufacturing – commonly known as 3D printing – to produce parts that are used for port equipment.
The deal involves a collaboration with PSA, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) and home-grown metal-printing company 3D Metalforge.
Speaking at the 6th Global Additive Manufacturing Summit, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Dr Lam Pin Min cited the collaboration as an example of how the Government can do more in strengthening partnerships between the public and private sectors across various industries.
“There is much scope for the public and private sectors to work together, to bring together a matching of expertise and resources, to develop ideas and bring them to fruition,” he said.
Dr Lam also pointed out that with additive manufacturing, ship parts such as propellers previously produced by original manufacturers at specific locations can now be printed whenever and wherever needed, at ports-of-call or even on-board ships.
3D Metalforge CEO Matthew Waterhouse said: “Additive manufacturing represents a huge opportunity for the maritime sector offering faster, more cost effective, on demand production of parts whilst helping companies improve part performance and reduce spare parts stocking costs.”
Since these parts can be printed on-demand, the new facility will reduce inventory and storage holding costs, as well as shorten the time needed to repair or replace components or equipment.
Mr Ong Kim Pong, Regional CEO Southeast Asia of PSA International, said he expects widespread adoption of additive manufacturing within Singapore’s maritime industry.
“Co-creating new innovations including digitising inventories will create opportunities to raise maritime productivity to the next level,” he added.
Looking ahead, PSA said it is looking to extend the scope of these services to the wider maritime industry.
Meanwhile, an agreement was also signed between MPA, NAMIC and the Singapore Shipping Association to explore the use of additive manufacturing parts through a joint industry programme.
The programme will provide the maritime industry with clarity on the challenges and opportunities for deploying additive manufacturing for marine parts, through the involvement of various partners from across the value chain.
NAMIC will also partner American digital manufacturing firm Ivaldi Group to kickstart this programme. The collaboration will see the development of techniques to ramp up the efficiency of 3D printing for the maritime industry.
But it’s not only the maritime industry that will stand to benefit from additive manufacturing. NAMIC is also exploring the use of the technology to make customised insoles that can enhance sports performance.
3D printing technology has been used in the manufacture of custom shoes for people whose feet do not meet pre-defined sizes and shapes.
To this end, NAMIC is partnering up with US-based startup Wiivv, who specialises in making 3D printed insoles, and tapping on sports science research in Singapore to develop the customised insoles.
NAMIC will also join global standards leader ASTM International’s Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence as a strategic partner to advance the standards, research and commercialisation of additive manufacturing technologies across sectors like aerospace, maritime and offshore, as well as logistics and fabrication.
The cluster will coordinate the centre’s research and development and related activities for the Asia-Pacific region, while also investing up to S$2 million in the first two years.