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Centre for Additive Manufacturing at the National University of Singapore launches 3D printing programme

Centre for Additive Manufacturing at the National University of Singapore launches 3D printing programme

The Centre for Additive Manufacturing
(AM.NUS) at the National University of Singapore recently
announced
the launch of the AM.NUS Construction 3D Printing
Programme to accelerate the adoption of 3D printing building technology in the
construction industry. The programme, hosted under the School of Design and
Environment
(SDE) at NUS and supported by the National Additive Manufacturing
Innovation Cluster
(NAMIC), will develop sustainable materials and
3D printing designs to facilitate the rapid mass production of building
structures.

3D printing technology has transformed manufacturing
in a wide array of sectors including the medical, precision engineering and
aerospace industries. It has enabled these sectors to significantly accelerate
production and lower costs. 3D printing technology has the potential to revolutionise the construction industry, boost efficiency
and increase cost savings. Added benefits include improved building structures,
better designs, eco-friendliness, and
sustainability. If adopted widely, construction 3D printing will empower
nations to meet the growing demands for housing, sanitation facilities or even
rebuild cities rapidly.

The new AM.NUS Construction 3D Printing
Programme will help to realise the value
of 3D printing in the construction sector
and establish an ecosystem of construction 3D printing capabilities in
Singapore through cutting-edge research and collaborations with the industry.
The programme also aims to provide training on construction 3D printing to NUS
students and industry partners and organise events like conferences and workshops
in the construction 3D printing space to encourage knowledge sharing in the
area.

In addition, a construction 3D printing
laboratory has been established as part of the programme and will house
Singapore’s largest gantry type concrete 3D printing machine. The technology
will be employed to test new building designs and materials with the aim to
develop concrete structures that can be easily mass produced by 3D printing in
a sustainable manner.

Both the programme and laboratory will be
based at SDE with researchers working closely with the industry on a range of
research projects.

The AM.NUS Construction 3D Printing
Programme has since embarked on two research projects:

1.      
3D printed toilet units to
improve sanitation in India:
This project will be carried out in collaboration with the NAMIC and the
Hamilton Labs to accelerate the production of toilet units in India and improve
sanitation in the country. The lack of sanitation has posed serious health
problems for residents in India and the construction of toilets remains largely
manual and ineffective. Researchers from the AM.NUS Construction 3D Printing
Programme have developed a novel toilet
unit design that can be 3D printed in under five hours, which currently takes a
day to build manually and is also 25 per cent
cheaper to produce by 3D printing. The new toilet units have since been
completed at NUS and will be shipped to
India for installation soon. The researchers are also looking into
incorporating recycled materials in the concrete used to construct these
toilets in the next phase. To address the challenges of building a toilet in
India the team conducted exhaustive field
studies in different parts of India develop
this 3D printed toilet. Each toilet unit is made up of 12 smaller modules which
can be transported to the destination where the toilet unit will be assembled
and installed.

2.      
World’s first 3D printed
volumetric formwork for bathroom units:
Formworks for concrete constructions are traditionally made with steel or
timber, and currently, a typical HDB bathroom unit takes almost a day to construct. The new formwork, which replaces
steel and timber with a polymer, could potentially construct up to 24 bathroom
units in a day using a semi-automated production line. Researchers are now
working with local authorities and a local firm to advance the project. 

By coupling the latest 3D printing
technology know-how with the suite of research capabilities in building
materials and design at NUS, the new unit could contribute towards making
construction more efficient and sustainable.

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