The FoiAM-MD at the Southern Taiwan Science Park is the first Factory of Intelligent Additive Manufacturing Medical Devices in Taiwan. The Ministry of Science and Technology is targeting high-value 3D printed medical devices to assist manufacturers in design, trial-production and commercialization, building a brand-new industry chain from scratch.
If you want to fly, first you need wings. At the new 3D printing industry chain in Southern Taiwan Science Park, Tongtai Machine & Tool makes everything possible. Tongtai is the first Taiwanese manufacturer to develop and sell “additive manufacturing devices,” aka 3D printers. Back when everybody was still focusing on making 3D printed products, they were one step ahead and had already started making 3D printers.
Three types of top-tier additive manufacturing
In response to government policy, Tongtai has developed a comprehensive 3D printing product line and now offers a series of three different additive manufacturing machines—Metal Powder, Dusting and Spray Adhesive—all using different materials and methods.
The Metal Powder machine uses laser beams to sinter metal powder layer by layer and create metal parts with high consistency. Additive processing does what conventional manufacturing cannot: reducing development time and enabling production of unique designs. In this way, you can produce a wide range of jewelry in small quantities, all integrally formed. Designer Weihao Shen (沈偉豪) has collaborated with Tongtai to create a jewelry collection using this technology.
The Dusting Additive Manufacturing machine integrates several different technologies, including 3D printing, 5-axis machining and laser modification, providing a one-stop shop to help customers speed up development and production.
The Spray Adhesive Additive Manufacturing machine is Taiwan’s first sand mold additive manufacturing device. It furan resins and phenolic resins to both speed up the molding process and produce cores of high complexity. With new casting possibilities opening up, the industry will become more competitive, and, more important, the materials used to build sand molds can be recycled, so you can save resources and protect the environment at the same time.
The struggle to build Taiwan’s 3D industry
As a local 3D printer manufacturer, Tongtai is aware of Taiwan’s problems in 3D printing: Besides stringent regulations on medical devices, other products are meeting difficulties because their designs are not up to date.
Making 3D printed products is more than simply converting things into 3D. You have to start from product design, and for this we need designers who think differently from conventional manufacturers, and cultivating such talent takes time.
Despite the difficulties faced by the 3D printing industry, Tongtai is still committed to maintaining its ability to produce a wide range of different products because in the future 3D printing of precision products will be ubiquitous. Besides the aerospace industry, the main areas currently seeing development in 3D printing include dental supplies, orthopedic supplies and medical assistive devices.
The industry at the moment is able to manufacture hearing aids, dental braces and even sneakers using 3D printing. The product variety will keep expanding in the future. Tongtai seizes the opportunity and has started collaborating with National Chiao Tung University, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, and National Cheng Kung University to develop unique materials possessing high durability, biological activity and purity. With support from the government and power of the people, we hope that Taiwan will soon have a much more comprehensive 3D printing industry, where designs, materials and manufacturers are all Made in Taiwan.