“It’s a bit like Lego”: Edgar Tan is fascinated by additive manufacturing

Career at thyssenkrupp | Digitalisation and industry 4.0 | Engineering | innovation | People at thyssenkrupp | thyssenkrupp worldwide | Edgar Tan has a passion for engineering and is excited about the possibilities of additive manufacturing. Since October 2019 the 32-year-old has been supporting thyssenkrupp Innovations in Singapore in the development of new production processes.

Initially referred to as “3D printing”, additive manufacturing (AM) is now much more than just another printing process. Nowadays the term covers all industrial manufacturing methods in which solid or liquid materials are put together layer by layer to form workpieces. Additive manufacturing has a big role to play especially when it comes to small production runs and prototypes.

That’s exactly the case at thyssenkrupp Innovations in Singapore, which among other things develops and applies new manufacturing processes for its customers. “At thyssenkrupp Innovations we see AM as an enabling technology for our business,” says Edgar Tan, AM Technical Specialist. “Currently some of the conventional methods require high minimum quantities and long delivery processes, forcing customers to commit to large production volumes,” says Edgar. Depending on requirements, additive manufacturing can solve these problems as there are no lead times and it is no problem to produce small quantities. That means the process also “enables faster production cycles and allows us to try out concepts for our customers far more quickly without having to make major investments.”

Edgar’s enthusiasm for additive manufacturing is a logical development: as a kid he liked tinkering and wanted to become an inventor. “When I was little I loved building things with Lego bricks,” he recalls. “When it comes down to it, additive manufacturing is a bit like Lego, because you build up components layer by layer.”

A better future for the next generation

Edgar started looking into the technology while he was still at university, and after graduating from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore he decided to set up his own business: “I completed my PhD three years ago and quickly established my own startup company,” says Edgar. As with so many startups, the business idea was based on experiences he made during his studies. “Many of the researchers at the university were spending a lot of time making the same materials on the AM printers; consolidation would have reduced the amount of work needed to set up the machines and allowed the projects in hand to be completed more quickly.” Since then Edgar has been working to optimize and consolidate the AM projects of his customers and optimize the capacity utilization of the machines.

With his experience and his know-how, the 32-year-old is a perfect fit with thyssenkrupp Innovations in Singapore, where the Additive Manufacturing TechCenter Hub was opened in 2019 to supplement the German TechCenter in Mülheim an der Ruhr. When the company came calling, Edgar didn’t think twice, because he and thyssenkrupp share a vision: “I joined thyssenkrupp because their mission to develop new sustainable products matches my passion to build a better future for the next generation,” says Edgar. The opportunity in the thyssenkrupp group to discover (almost) the entire value chain of metal products was a particular attraction, “from raw materials to the end products used in plants, cars and ships.”

At thyssenkrupp Innovations the young man can help shape the future. For Edgar, that’s more than just a job. He has turned his passion into a vocation.

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