Forging new industry collaborations
The National University of Singapore Centre for Additive Manufacturing (or AM.NUS) will work closely with industry partners to develop and transfer AM technologies for biomedical applications. At the ceremony, held on July 21 in Singapore four industry partners signed collaboration Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with AM.NUS. The MOU signing ceremony was witnessed by Amrin Amin, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Health.
AM.NUS will drive AM R&D in the biomedical sector along the following key thrusts:
1) Developing surgical instruments, simulators and prosthetics – Researchers from the Division of Industrial Design at the NUS School of Design and Environment aim to create customisable surgical tools and simulators for educating the next generation of doctors or simplifying difficult clinical tasks. The team will also design functional prosthetics using AM technology.
2) 3D Printing-enabled customised medicine – Researchers from the Department of Pharmacy at the NUS Faculty of Science are exploring use of AMenabled drug formulations and individualised control of dosage/ drug release.
3) Bio-printing for tissue repair – Scientists from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine will be studying new solutions to regenerate and replace damaged tissues by using advanced materials and scaffold printing techniques, combined with tissue engineering.
4) Restorative repairs and implants – Researchers from the NUS Faculty of Engineering are exploring functional printing and developing ceramic and metal AM materials and processes, in order to bring novel and more biocompatible implants to market.
5) Oral health and craniofacial applications – The NUS Faculty of Dentistry will be leading educational efforts in advanced computer-aided oral surgery and surgical planning. The Faculty will also conduct research on the use of AM in dental implant design and tissue engineering.
AM.NUS consists of two laboratories – one located at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and the other at the Faculty of Engineering. These facilities are equipped with the latest AM equipment, including powder-, plastics- and liquid- based printers, 3D scanners, CAD image processing and design software, as well as testing and validation facilities.
AM.NUS will also run AM-related courses for post-
graduate students, deepening the local talent pool within this field. Graduates will learn and gain handson experience in AM processes, materials technologies and design for AM principles. This will enhance the quality of customised products and services and raise the productivity of many industry sectors as a whole.
The key industry partners are:
1) Creatz3D – This local SME will partner AM.NUS to develop next-generation medical training and educational simulation.
2) Dou Yee Enterprises – This pioneering mid-sized local company with established bases of manufacturing in Asia, using metal injection moulding technologies, will collaborate with AM.NUS to develop capability for 3D printed precision parts.
3) Forefront Additive Manufacturing – This local precision engineering company will be leveraging on AM.NUS’ biomedical capabilities to grow their business in the healthcare space.
4) Osteopore International – This local pioneering SME that specialises in AM will partner AM.NUS in the design, development and clinical trials of 3D-printed bioscaffolds for orthopaedic applications.
“AM.NUS will bring together NUS technologies with industry expertise, enabling the accelerated translation of NUS technologies into innovative healthcare products and services. The Centre is already working on a total of 17 collaborative projects, and has raised about S$4.7 million in additional project funding,” said Dr Lily Chan, CEO NUS Enterprise.
“Additive manufacturing (AM) is a disruptive technology that should be embraced by Singapore’s manufacturing industries”, said Chang Chin Nam, Executive Director (Precision Engineering), EDB. “To support technology development and encourage industry-wide adoption, Singapore has embarked on building AM capabilities within the public and private sectors, both in R&D and workforce training. In close partnership with the National University Health System, AM.NUS will therefore complement Singapore’s AM efforts in the biomedical industry.”
“As a cluster founding member, together with NTU’s Singapore Centre for 3D Printing and SUTD’s Digital Manufacturing and Design Research Centre, the NUS Centre for Additive Manufacturing will play a vital role in NAMIC’s translational research and industry adoption efforts, further strengthening Singapore’s efforts to become a global 3D printing technology hub. As the industrialisation of 3D printing gains momentum, our goal is help the sector achieve better patient outcomes, addressing the needs of our bio-medical and patient community with cost-effective and personalised healthcare solutions,” said Dr Ho Chaw Sing, Managing Director NAMIC.
In his speech Amrin Amin said “Scientific discoveries and innovative technology through the years have played significant roles in advancing medicine and improving healthcare, which have ultimately contributed to reduced mortality and morbidity of patients. In this light, the emerging process of additive manufacturing, or what is commonly known as 3D printing, has drawn much interest and anticipation for its possibilities in bringing better health outcomes and value to patients.”
In healthcare, the last 20 years were arguably the most thrilling period for 3D printing, when the first 3D-printed organs were implanted in humans. More recently, scientists have also discovered that, in theory, blood vessels, skin and even embryonic stem cells could be 3D printed.
In mainstream manufacturing, 3D printing has had most success with prosthetics, dental work and hearing aids which can all be made from plastic or pliable materials, and often require to be customised to meet patients’ needs. “This has also been achieved by our researchers from National Dental Centre Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, who developed a 3D printed scaffold to grow bone for placing dental implants after a tooth has been extracted. With this, the need for painful bone grafting from other parts of the patient’s body is avoided,” Amrin Amin said.
For continued innovation and adoption of 3D printing, collaborations with different sectors are necessary. Since its formation in 2015, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) has actively engaged more than 500 companies and institutions locally and globally.
Likewise, the new NUS Centre for Additive Manufacturing (AM.NUS) aims to serve a wide spectrum of industry players, including SMEs and MNCs. The Centre will apply ground-breaking additive manufacturing technology, in particular within the biomedical and healthcare fields. Today’s signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between AM.NUS and its industry partners will help accelerate the adoption of 3D printing in the local industry. AM.NUS’ specific focus on healthcare applications further aims to bring the latest in innovative technology to clinicians, with the aim of improving patient outcomes. Importantly, the collaboration will bring together industry, clinicians, hospitals, engineers and designers to tackle complex healthcare issues.
Amrin Amin said “I wish NAMIC, AM.NUS and industry partners continued success in advancing the field of 3D printing and promoting its adoption in local enterprises. We look forward to the developments of 3D printing in healthcare and the exciting possibilities in meeting patients’ needs.”
Dignitaries witnessing the signing of MoU between National University of Singapore Centre for Additive Manufacturing (AM.NUS) and industry partners on July 21 in Singapore.