SUTD spends $1 million to install two smart factory systems that students can use for free

12 Apr 2024

Lianhe Zaobao, 12 Apr 2024, 新科大斥资百万元引进两套智能工业系统 学生可免费使用 (translation)

To enable students to master the latest technology and cultivate their creativity, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) spent about $1 million to install two advanced smart factory systems for students to use for free.

The two systems were installed in SUTD’s Fabrication Laboratory in February this year. One of the systems is a smart 3D printing system. Compared with previous 3D printing systems, this new system not only has higher accuracy and faster speed, but users can also send designs through an online application, without going into the laboratory to operate the machine.

Check 3D printing progress online and stop it at any time to reduce time and consumables used
The new system includes eight Ultimaker S7 series 3D printers, each equipped with a camera.

Users can not only check the remaining time and printer queue status online, but also view the printing progress online. If the printing effect is not satisfactory, one can stop the print job at any time to reduce time and consumables used.

In addition, this smart 3D printing system is also equipped with an automatic robotic arm and a 24-compartment storage box. After the work is printed, the robot will automatically take out the finished product and put it into a storage box, and the printer can continue to operate to reduce in-line waiting time. Once the print job has been completed, the user will receive an email notification.

A total of fifty or sixty 3D printers are available for student and faculty use
Grace Sow, head of the SUTD Fabrication Laboratory, said that SUTD is the first local university to introduce 3D printers. Counting this new equipment, SUTD currently has a total of fifty or sixty 3D printers, the most in any local university, for faculty and students to use.

Stacy Lie (23), a senior student from the Engineering Product Development pillar, said that in the past, when using a 3D printer, she had to book a printing session and spend a lot of time calibrating, cleaning and starting the printer. The new system allows designs to be submitted online, run on multiple devices simultaneously, and then collected at the same time. "The new system not only improves my printing efficiency for my graduation project, but also reduces my preparation time for each print."

Smart injection molding system improves efficiency in mass production of parts
Another set of advanced equipment is the SMART Plastic Injection Molding (PIM) Cell. From mold injection molding, automatic removal, to identification accuracy, all are achieved through intelligent robots, which greatly improves the efficiency of mass production of parts.

This system uses a robotic arm to take out the injection molded parts and then places them on a high-speed, high-precision visual inspection system. It provides accurate product measurement and data analysis through cameras, image processors and software algorithms, simulating human visual inspection. The robotic arm will send the parts that pass the inspection to the next station, automatically remove the excess material, then throw the scraps into a collection box, and send the collection box to the smart garbage station.

Grace Sow said: "The school provides these devices to students in the hope that they can create the designs they want. Our students need to know how to solve real-life problems and come up with solutions. It is not enough to just write and present ideas. SUTD also requires students to make them. Only by making a model and having something practical to present can we know how to improve it."