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Organizations like Swinburne University of Technology in Australia know that collaboration is important when it comes to developing innovations in the 3D printing field. Two years ago, the university partnered with three other organizations to create a joint manufacturing research center in the Shandong Province of China.

Now, as part of its digital manufacturing process research, it’s working with several new partners to set up the world’s first Industry 4.0 Testlab for composite carbon manufacturing.

“Swinburne, with our partners, will lead the world in providing digital manufacturing solutions to secure Australia’s place in the lucrative intermediate product market,” said Professor Bronwyn Fox, Director of Swinburne’s Manufacturing Futures Research Institute.

[Image: Manufacturing Futures Research Institute]

The focal point of the Industry 4.0 Testlab will be the first industrial-scale multilayer approach to 3D printing carbon fiber composites, which will be able to produce commercial parts made with the material for less waste, less cost, and a better production capability.

The unique multilayer 3D printing technology, which Swinburne will use to build Australia’s first mature Industry 4.0 Testlab material, was developed to the university’s specifications by Austrian engineering company Fill, a family business founded in 1966.

Carbon fiber composites offer several benefits – the engineered materials can be used to manufacture smart products, and provide infinite flexibility when it comes to designs. But, because of high labor costs and manufacturing speed limitations, it’s hard to produce high volumes of the material on a commercial scale. That’s why Swinburne is working with a supplier, and three equipment manufacturers, in order to, as the university says, “demonstrate the manufacture of actual commercial parts in an integrated pilot line.”

Professor Aleksander Subic, Swinburne Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), believes that next-generation materials, like these 3D printable carbon fiber composites, are at the center of the university’s new Industry 4.0 Testlab, as well as its Factory of the Future, which features a 3D Visualization and Design Studio and was recently digitized thanks to a record $135 million industrial digitization grant from Siemens awarded in August 2017. The grant will also be used to help develop the Industry 4.0 Testlab.

Swinburne’s Factory of the Future. [Image: Factory of the Future]

Professor Subic explained, “In order to make high value-add products from such materials affordable to manufacture on scale in Australia we are developing technologies and processes that have the potential to disrupt and transform the manufacturing and infrastructure industries.

“The partnership with Fill (Austria) is of particular importance to our strategy as it allows us to introduce a unique form of 3D printing technology for composite products to our lab and fully automate the process.

“In the final stage, we will digitalise the lab through our strategic partnership with Siemens and the $135 Million industrial digitalisation grant awarded to Swinburne at the end of last year.

“This will be the first Industry 4.0 fully operational pilot plant of its kind in the world, offering unique educational and research opportunities to our students, staff and industry partners.”

Director of Swinburne’s Manufacturing Futures Research Institute, Professor Bronwyn Fox. [Image: Swinburne]

The entire process, which will include resin dispensing and curing as well as Fill’s multilayer process, will be entirely digitally controlled.

Professor Fox said, “With our industrial partners, we will create a digital twin of the process and push the boundaries of virtual commissioning.”

Professor Fox also stated that the university’s new Industry 4.0 Testlab will give Australian manufacturers access to the latest cutting edge technology, such as 3D printing.

“The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) has reported that 41 per cent of the global economy is in the intermediate product market and yet Australia participates in less than one per cent of this at present,” Professor Fox explained.

“This represents a significant opportunity for Australian SMEs and through our international collaborations Swinburne’s Industry 4.0 Testlab will actively link Australian SMEs into global value chains as we are already doing with our partner Imagine Intelligent Materials.”

“Through our partnership with global OEMs we have identified that the real opportunity for Australian industry is not in the raw materials but in the high value-add digital design, simulation and manufacture of products.”

According to Professor Fox, Swinburne is also working with automotive products design and part manufacturer Mulitmatic on the university’s Industry 4.0 Testlab and new multilayer 3D printing process. Together, the two will develop a new competitively priced product for the automotive industry, as well as increase the number of opportunities for manufacturing processes.

Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or leave a Facebook comment below.

[Source: Swinburne]

 

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