July 20, 2015 | By Simon

As more manufacturers from multiple industries ranging from medical to aerospace continue to find new ways of implementing additive manufacturing into their existing processes, it should come with little surprise that theses manufacturing companies are also putting more focus on their R&D departments for further developing additive manufacturing processes to better suit their needs.  

While in the last decade, it might have been common for companies to add a 3D printer to their existing R&D lab, a number of companies have been going so far as to opening up entirely new innovation centers that put additive manufacturing front and center - both for their own interests as well as start-ups and other organizations that they hope to help foster growth in.  

More recently, Hyundai Heavy Industries joined the South Korean government’s creative economy initiative by opening the nation’s 15th creative ‘economy innovation center’ in Ulsan.

Aiming to boost their long-term technological competitiveness and help the city further become a mecca for eco-friendly and auto-operating ships and automated medical services, a focus of the innovation center will be on developing cutting-edge shipbuilding and industrial robot manufacturing technologies.

“Ulsan is the industrial capital of Korea, where per capita production and incomes are the nation’s highest, specializing in major heavy industries such as shipbuilding, automotive and petrochemicals,” said South Korean president Park Geun-hye at the opening ceremony this past wednesday morning.

“However, as Korean heavy industries are challenged by nearby countries’ technological advancements, I hope to see the Ulsan Center contribute to giving new life to existing industry by integrating ICT and making it a next-generation growth engine.”

The Ulsan Center will consist of two branch locations including one branch inside of the University of Ulsan and another in the city’s start-up assistance center building.  Both of the centers will help foster South Korean start-ups with a focus on 3D printing and automated medical services industries, however a significant focus will also be placed on boosting the efficiency of the shipbuilding industry through the use of additive manufacturing.  

In an effort to help spearhead innovation with the shipbuilding, Hyundai Heavy Industries along with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, and Samsung Heavy Industries will share over 2,500 patents with new start-ups to help inspire new business projects that can be customized to the shipbuilder’s needs.

In an effort to help pass down technical details from real-life experience on the ships with the new software-driven startups, retirees and senior workers from Hyundai Heavy Industries and other companies will be among those working at the Ulsan Center on a daily basis.

In total, the Ulsan Center aims to localize the production of at least 15 key ship components by the end of 2015 and a total of 165 within the next three years.  It is estimated that the localized manufacturing of these parts through additive manufacturing methods will save Korean shipbuilders an average of nearly $2 billion per year.  


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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