Singapore's first 3D printer-scanner

Staff of Blacksmith Group (from left) Ajie Nikicio, chief technology engineer; Fang Kok Boon, chief executive officer; Pui Tze Sian, director; and Joyce Ngiam, chief operating officer, holding items created using the 3D printer.

It looks like an oversized coffee machine but the Blacksmith Genesis will not be brewing espresso. It could however make the coffee cup.

The Genesis is Singapore's first 3D printer and scanner combination. Developed by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) start-up Blacksmith Group, it allows users to scan an item and print it out fuss-free.

Mr Fang Kok Boon, 29, Blacksmith's chief and one of the designers of the prototype, said it was developed to make 3D printing easy for anyone to use.

The machine can print an item up to the size of a large tissue box. It takes about six minutes to complete a full scan, and up to several hours to print, depending on the object's size and volume. A replica of a soft drink can, for instance, takes about two hours and costs about 20 to 30 cents to produce.

Genesis is targeted at hobbyists who might wish to make their own spare parts or figurines, such as replacement parts for remote-controlled model planes.

Blacksmith also announced yesterday the launch of a campaign on crowdfunding website Indiegogo.

It hopes to raise US$75,000 (S$100,000) to manufacture the printers. Each machine is expected to cost US$2,200.

And it could be a hit as current low-cost printers are hard to programme and assemble, noted Professor Chua Chee Kai, director of NTU's Additive Manufacturing Centre.

The first batch of 30 commercially-ready machines is expected to be available in March.

Development of 3D printers has been growing in recent years.

Last year, home-grown start-up Pirate3D received international attention after it raised US$1.5 million for its Buccaneer 3D printer.

lesterh@sph.com.sg

This article was published on Aug 13 in The Straits Times.

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