AMS Spring 2023

Fraunhofer and RMIT Form Cross-Continental 3D Printing Partnership

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While RMIT University is known for specializing in technology and design, Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS is a force to contend with, known as a leading applied 3D printing institute in Europe.

Together, these two international organizations bring together powerful resources for revolutionizing manufacturing—previously a critical industry in Australia that has been in somewhat of a decline over recent years. Overall, however, Australia is no stranger to the wonders of 3D printing, also embracing the technology with research and development facilities, advanced bioprinting and encouraging users to create bespoke products.

RMIT and Fraunhofer IWS will be partnering on research projects with Australian companies, and their staff and students will perform collaborative research. Centered around advanced 3D printing for manufacturing, each project will maintain a focus on transforming manufacturing within Australia through innovative techniques and new quality products.

This partnership has been designed to bring together world experts and high-performance technology, meant to benefit companies in Australia eager to evolve. The program will include exploration of digital manufacturing, improved automation, and processes that are data-driven—all related to 3D printing and an assortment of technologies that accompany it, from robotics to computational design and the creation of algorithms to expand beyond present processes and into what RMIT’s Professor Aleksandar Subic refers to as critical for industry 4.0 transformation—along with further plans for creating a “world-leading 3D printing technology center” at the RMIT Advanced Manufacturing Precinct.

From the RMIT Advanced Manufacturing Precinct (Image: RMIT)

Subic explained that the partnership was also a significant step towards establishing a world-leading 3D printing technology center within the RMIT Advanced Manufacturing Precinct. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on travel these days, there are plans for the Fraunhofer IWS researchers to travel to Melbourne as soon as they can to work with RMIT researchers and students involved in the project. Likewise, RMIT postgraduate students will be traveling to Germany to collaborate on research projects at Fraunhofer IWS when it is safe.

“Our primary goal through this partnership is closer contact with the Australian market where there is so much latent potential for additive manufacturing, while at the same time fostering student exchange and joint PhD supervision that we know will be of high quality,” said Director of Fraunhofer IWS, Professor Christoph Leyens, also adding that the agreement is the first of its kind for Australia.

All involved are dedicated to picking up the pace for manufacturing in Australia, seizing new opportunities, and working to reinvent. With previous challenges in labor cost for what is often “low value, high volume” manufacturing, the researchers now will focus on the rapid production of parts like metal components for applications involving transportation, renewables, mining, and defense.

“Germany is a key global driver of i4.0 technology and Fraunhofer IWS is the leading applied 3D printing institute in Europe,” said Subic. “It’s exciting to have the best in Australia partnering with the best in Europe, working together on high impact, globally relevant projects with industry.”

Researchers and students will start working together online now, with travel expected between the two institutions next year.

From the RMIT Advanced Manufacturing Precinct (Image: RMIT)

[Source: RMIT University]

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