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3D technologies set to up aerospace companies' competitive edge

SINGAPORE: 3D or additive manufacturing technologies are set to enable aerospace companies to become more competitive, according to industry experts at the NAMIC Aerospace Summit on Thursday (Apr 6).

According to GE Aviation vice president for Industrialisation Dr Sanjay Correa, 3D printing will complement the growth of the aerospace industry by helping to lower manufacturing costs and allowing greater flexibility in design.

“You can design with much greater freedom than before,” he said. “So ideally, the additive manufactured part is actually not simply reproducing a conventionally designed part. Typically, you can take weight out, you can have better performance, better life, because you simplify – say 20 parts joined by bolts or braces – and it’s just one continuously printed part. These are some of the advantages, in addition to speed, that make additive printing important for us.”

Agreeing, National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) chief executive Ho Chaw Sing said costs and environmental concerns are key drivers for the development of 3D printing industry.

“From 2016 to 2022, the global 3D printing market is expected to grow at a CAGR of close to 30 per cent and will hit something close to US$ 30 billion,” said Dr Ho at the summit which saw 200 participants from more than 30 companies.

However, he also acknowledged that there are some challenges that the industry needs to overcome, with the industry still in its nascent stages. “One of the few challenges that right now remains to be solved, besides the cost part of it, is the speed. It’s a big question mark. The materials play a key enabler to broaden the application using 3D printing.”

The application of 3D printing is also different across players in the industry, said Mr Sia Kheng Yok, chief executive of Association of Aerospace Industries Singapore (AAIS).

“As a whole, the adoption of additive manufacturing in aerospace is still fairly nascent,” he said. “We know one of the industry leaders, for example, is GE Aviation, which has implemented some additive manufactured parts in its engines. But others are still exploring what the potential is, in terms of economics, in terms of improvements to the quality of products and so on.”

Managing director of Embraer Asia Pacific Ricardo Pesce said the aerospace industry in Singapore contributes almost 3 per cent of Singapore’s total manufacturing output.

Mr Pesce, who is also a member of the AAIS management committee, added that the industry in Singapore has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 8 per cent over the last two decades, with Singapore emerging as a key hub for maintenance, repairs and overhaul in the Asia-Pacific.

“The long-term growth prospects for the aerospace industry are very positive, spurred by growing demand for air travel,” he said. “The consensus view is that the Asia-Pacific region will continue to be the key driver of future growth and for the foreseeable future.”

As the aerospace industry continues to play a key part in driving high-quality and sustainable economic growth in Singapore through innovation and the adoption of technologies like additive manufacturing, the Government will continue to help support such efforts, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said.

“EDB will continue to support aerospace companies in their collaborations with research institutes and industry partners in the adoption of additive manufacturing,” said Tan Kong Hwee, director of transport engineering at EDB.

The Government has also been focusing on the development of the 3D printing industry, with the setting up of NAMIC, which is spearheaded by the Nanyang Technological University, together with Government agency SPRING Singapore and the National Research Foundation.

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Stocks, dollar edge higher ahead of Trump-Xi meeting

NEW YORK: Global equity markets and the dollar edged higher on Thursday, helped by fresh data showing a tighter U.S. labor market, as investors stayed cautious before the first meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Key stock indexes in Europe and on Wall Street climbed but a gauge of global equities was little changed, with gains offset by a decline in emerging markets .

The dollar index extended gains after data showed new applications last week for U.S. unemployment benefits recorded their biggest drop in nearly two years.

Last week’s jobless claims data, however, has little bearing on the March employment report due out on Friday. Claims rose during the survey week for nonfarm payrolls last month, suggesting some moderation in the pace of job growth.

“The market will be very remiss to do anything too sharp at this point, given that we have payrolls coming up,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, an interest rate strategist at TD Securities in New York.

The dollar index rose 0.15 percent, with the euro down 0.18 percent to US$ 1.0643. The Japanese yen weakened 0.21 percent versus the greenback at 110.93 per dollar.

Trump faces pressure to deliver trade concessions with China for some of his most fervent supporters and to prevent a crisis with North Korea from spiraling out of control. However, White House officials have set expectations low for the meeting.

The market’s main concern is that Trump and Xi may not see eye-to-eye on most things and that traders will infer this from their body language, said Thierry Albert Wizman, global interest rates and currencies strategist, at Macquarie Group in New York.

“Rather than a lack of agreement, however, the greater risk is a lack of deep engagement,” he said.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 51.75 points, or 0.25 percent, to 20,699.9. The S&P 500 gained 5.89 points, or 0.25 percent, to 2,358.84 and the Nasdaq Composite added 12.22 points, or 0.21 percent, to 5,876.69.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.16 percent to 1,499.94, while MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe fell 0.06 percent.

Oil prices rose nearly 1 percent, on track for a fourth straight day of gains, but analysts warned record high U.S. inventories could derail the rally.

U.S. crude rose 55 cents to settle at US$ 51.70 a barrel and Brent settled up 53 cents at US$ 54.89.

U.S. Energy Department data show crude inventories at record levels, leading some analysts to say speculative buying is starting to reach dangerous levels from a technical perspective.

“It’s hard to justify the move on the on back of fundamentals,” said Robert Yawger, director in energy futures at Mizuho.

U.S. Treasury yields fell slightly ahead of the U.S. jobs report on Friday.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were last up 2/32 in price to yield 2.3480 percent.

U.S. gold futures gained 0.39 percent to US$ 1,253.40 an ounce. Copper lost 0.29 percent to US$ 5,878.00 a tonne.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)

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