October 8, 2015
America may have been the birthplace of additive manufacturing (AM), but other countries are catching up fast. Europe already has a robust AM marketplace, complete with research centers, manufacturers and service bureaus. Moving farther away, China and Taiwan are racing to join the global AM market, bringing low costs and AM innovations.
The majority of Taiwan’s efforts at playing catch-up have revolved around supplying inexpensive desktop AM systems, but that may soon change. The National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST), Taiwan’s lead institute for defense R&D, has developed a prototype metal AM system with the assistance of a coalition of governmental and academic allies.
Taiwan is interested in using metal AM alongside more traditional defense research to develop new applications for military use. This includes using the new system to upgrade or help maintain the country’s aerospace defenses. Missile and Rocket Systems Research Division deputy general director Jen Kuo-kang is also excited about using AM to expand the capabilities of weapon’s research.
The prototype system offers a 250 x 250 x 250 mm (9.84 x 9.84 x 9.84 in.) build envelope and employs a 500 W laser. The current stumbling block for expanding operations is material production. CSIST is working with National Cheng Kung University to develop powdered metal materials to fuel the new AM system, and expects progress within six months.
It seems unlikely that this new metal AM system will remain a resource that is available to the military alone. Taiwan’s private sector could certainly benefit from the ability to offer metal AM systems for sale around the world.
Below you’ll find a video about metal AM.
Source: Taipei Times