Jan 8, 2016 | By Kira

The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has been making significant steps in advancing Taiwan’s economic growth within the value-added, technology-driven industry—particularly on the 3D printing/additive manufacturing front. Recently, the government-funded Research Institute developed a laser optical engine that could regulate the hardness of metal parts during 3D printing. Now, ITRI has established a joint fund with Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, one of the world's largest financial groups, to further support the development of laser technology, which can be used in to enhance precision and quality in 3D printing processes.

ITRI President Dr. Jonq-Min Liu , Dr. Fanghei Tsau , Dr. Chun-Hsun Chu, and ITRI Chairman Dr. Ching-Yen Tsay

The two organizations announced that through the first round of funding alone, they managed to raise NT $1.5 billion—roughly equivalent to US $45 million—and that the second joint fund is expected to value NT $2.5 billion, or US $75.18 million. In addition to developing laser technology within Taiwan and establishing the first laser company financed by Taiwanese and Japanese organizations, the fund will also assist local companies’ brushless DC motor-controlled IC modules enter the large Japanese-vendors supply chain, thus deepening Taiwan-Japan business and industry relations.

The news of this large-scale multi-national cooperation comes just as ITRI has announced the opening of two new technology centers designed to bolster the IoT and 3D printing industries within Taiwan: The Smart Microsystems Technology Center and the Laser and Additive Manufacturing Technology Center. The centers will be led by Dr. Chun-Hsun Chu and Dr. Fagnhei Tasu, respectively, both of whom are Deputy Executive Directors of ITRI’s Southern Region Campus.

“In light of the broad trends associated with the Internet of Things and smart microsystems technology, the objective of the Smart Microsystems Technology Center will be to become a global R&D and production base for smart sensors," said ITRI.

As for the Laser and Additive Manufacturing Technology Center, it will concentrate explicitly on the development of independent technology related to laser sources, laser processing, laser laminate manufacturing, and pilot production.

According to Dr. Tsau, a PhD in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech and the leader of the laser and additive manufacturing team, lasers can be used in both additive and subtractive manufacturing for better quality and precision—take, for example TRUMPF’s recently unveiled laser-based metal 3D printers. Thus, the new centre will focus its R&D on a high value laser process development platform, additive manufacturing process and equipment, and laser application systems and modules. The centre will also feature a comprehensive manufacturing test laboratory for laser applications, with the overriding goal of producing key modules for precision laser applications and additive manufacturing within Taiwan.

ITRI has also founded Taiwan’s laser applications pilot production and laser metal additive manufacturing laboratory, leading to the development of the “Laser Optics Valley.”

3D printed metal parts developed with ITRI's laser optical engine

The joint fund between ITRI and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial group is actually the second joint fund for the two leading organizations. The previous one successfully financed seven Taiwanese companies and seven Japanese companies. Investors in this second fund include the Akita Bank, Chang Chun Group, Superrite Electronics, Superior Plating Technology, and Maxfund Investment Group, among other companies. According to reports, the expected Internal Rate of Return (IRR) for this Taiwan-Japan fund is 15%, higher than average funds IRR of 8% to 10%.

In further Taiwan-Japan-related 3D printing news, Taiwan's MIRDC and Tohoku University of Japan this week joined forces to advance metal 3D printing. The partnership will see both institutes working together to develop new additive manufacturing equipment, related processes and melting technology. Along with upgrading both Taiwan and Japan’s metal 3D printing industries, longer term plans for the agreement are to enhance the exchange of researchers and eventually to work on key technologies for the energy industry.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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