French-Australian Research Collaboration Centers on Metallic 3D Printing and Marine Propellers

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3D printing is often used for applications in the maritime and naval fields, and now a research collaboration on marine technologies between institutes in Australia and France is hoping to further investigate use of the technology for defense purposes. Researchers from Centrale Nantes, a French engineering “Grand Ecole” that has some experience with 3D printing, are teaming up with Flinders University in Australia – a member of the Innovative Research Universities network that also knows a thing or two when it comes to 3D printing technologies.

Earlier this week in Sydney, the scientific and research collaboration was announced during a ceremony attended by The Honourable Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia, and His Excellency Emmanuel Macron President of the French Republic. According to Professor Arnaud Poitou, Director of Centrale Nantes, this multi-national collaboration will “advance global understanding in the field of marine technology.”

Centrale Nantes Director Professor Arnaud Poitou and Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling signing the Central Nantes-Flinders research agreement.

“Centrale Nantes is pleased to welcome Flinders University to join our world leading researchers in Nantes,” said Professor Poitou. “The research teams at Flinders will further enhance our efforts in this area to assist in developing the maritime technologies of the future.”

Flinders researchers, specifically from the university’s Centre for NanoScale Science and Technology and Centre for Maritime Engineering, Control and Imaging, are working with researchers from Centrale Nantes on projects that are centered around the themes of additive manufacturing and naval hydrodynamics and simulator development.

Flinders University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said, “Flinders University welcomes the opportunity to share its defence research expertise on the international stage, and grow its relationship with Centrale Nantes to make a positive difference to an accelerating global industry.”

For the first theme, projects will be related to 3D printing of metal-polymer composite materials. The collaborative research team from Flinders University and Centrale Nantes will work to investigate and understand the challenges involved with using composite and metallic materials in 3D printing.

Professor Stirling with Professor Arnaud Poitou at Kirribilli House for the research agreement announcement.

The other theme will explore the use of nanocomposite technologies for manufacturing marine propellers, and if they can be used to reduce corrosion, noise, and manufacturing costs while increasing blade strength. This project will entail the development of experimental models that can be used to investigate how feasible it is to manufacture smart composites with embedded sensors, and use them to assure structural integrity and monitor performance.

In addition to these important research themes, the collaboration will give Australian and French students opportunities to participate in internships and exchange placements.

Furthering the research collaboration between the two countries, Flinders has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on advanced sonar and naval robotics technology with the Thales Group and top graduate and post-graduate engineering school and research institute ENSTA Bretagne.

“This is all about attracting the best and brightest in both Australia and France to work on the challenges of the future submarine program, ensuring Australia gets the best capability,” said Chris Jenkins, the CEO of Thales Australia, about the MoU.

“The MOU provides a long term framework for collaboration in naval robotics applicable to both submarine and surface ship sonars, including opportunities to share testing facilities, operate exchange programs and facilitate joint research projects.

“It builds on an already strong relationship between Thales and Flinders University in Australia as well as between ENSTA Bretagne and Thales in Brest, France.”

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[Images: Flinders University]

 

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