Friday, September 22, 2023

‘Balik scientist’ amazed on PH advances in 3D printing

For Department of Science and Technology (DOST) “Balik Scientist” Dr. Eugene Caldona, 3D printing continues to hold a lot of promise for both the industrial and consumer sectors in the Philippines.

“Ten years ago, sabi ko isip ko, ‘ano naman ang magagawa ng 3D printing na ‘to sa research?’ I was looking at 3D printing from a chemist’s point of view. Eh, para sa mga hobbyist lang ito, but look at what happened now,” Caldona said.

He also cited the DOST’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMCen), the largest 3D printing facility in the country, as proof of the country’s commitment to 3D technology.

Caldona was a speaker at the recently held DOST Balik Scientist Program (DOST-BSP) forum.

In his “Additive Manufacturing of Engineering and High-Performance Polymeric Materials” presentation, the Balik Scientist shared his perception then of additive manufacturing (AM) impacting product development as “far-off from reality.” 

AM or 3D printing technology was first introduced in the 1980s and has significantly advanced in recent years. 3D printing is now being utilized to create simple do-it-yourself items as well as large-scale structures such as a house or a building. This just clearly shows that there is no limit to technology.

Caldona also discussed polymers and the rising trend of AM across the globe. Further, he talked about the challenges and tips on how to effectively 3D print high-performance materials, which include polyetheretherketone (PEEK), polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), Kevlar, polypropylene, fluoropolymer, and Epoxy-based materials.

To advance 3D printing technology in the Philippines, the DOST has established the Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMCen) – Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC), which focuses on initiatives to enhance the aerospace, defense, biomedical, healthcare, and automotive industries, among others, through 3D printing.

The façade of the Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMCen) of the DOST-MIRDC, the largest 3D printing facility in the country

Caldona expounded on the different polymers that are currently being used by the 3D printing industry, some of which are also offered by the AMCen. In AMCen, clients have a variety of materials to choose from depending on their requirements.

According to Caldona, the rapid and systematic fabrication approach offered by this cutting-edge technology is what commonly appeals to people. However, others might not realize that 3D printing will not only accelerate the product development phase but also improve supply chain efficiency.


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