Australian large scale metal 3D printing company AML3D will expand its manufacturing operations to the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide, where Flinders University and defense company BAE Systems Maritime Australia are developing a state-of-the-art “Factory of the Future” to accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing. AML3D’s upcoming R&D facility will incorporate its patented wire additive manufacturing (WAM) process and enhance large-scale additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities. The move solidifies an ongoing partnership with Flinders University, which could lead to further technological breakthroughs.
The development of the Line Zero – Factory of the Future was fast-tracked back in January 2021 after the Australian government announced a $5 million funding commitment, matching Flinders University’s initial investment. The site will be a world-class manufacturing accelerator embedded within South Australia, initially focused on collaborative research and training towards the country’s $90 billion shipbuilding program. The facility will provide a controlled space to test new manufacturing techniques and processes that BAE Systems may use to build the nine Hunter-class frigates, a future class of full-rigged ships for the Royal Australian Navy.
AML3D’s expansion into Tonsley follows an ongoing collaboration with Flinders University and BAE Systems in large-scale metal AM. Furthermore, AML3D Managing Director Andrew Sales highlighted that the trials and research projects to be undertaken at the facility, in conjunction with the two partners, will enable AML3D to develop its large-scale metal AM capability further through added features such as in-process measurement, monitoring, and adjustment for improving quality.
Immersed in the defense sector, AML3D says it has the world’s largest, certified, production-ready metal 3D printers and the only metals diversified large-scale WAM production facility in the Southern Hemisphere, headquartered in Adelaide. Released in 2020, the brand’s flagship Arcemy industrial metal 3D printer combines welding science, robotics automation, materials engineering, and proprietary software to form its recently patented WAM process. Arcemy produces parts smartly by depositing molten wire layer by layer in a controlled way.
In a short time, the large format system gained traction with shipbuilding companies, including BAE Systems Australia subsidiary ASC Shipbuilding and Perth shipbuilder Austal. The nation’s premier naval industry hub is in South Australia, and the sector’s leading businesses are leading the way through modern digital shipyard manufacturing. In fact, BAE Systems Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Strategy Director Sharon Wilson said AM would be a core element of the Factory of the Future concept, with testing and trials of metal AM systems soon underway for potential applications in naval shipbuilding.
“Having a machine down at Line Zero is so exciting for us because that whole collaboration piece means that SME’s, researchers, and people who cannot afford to buy one of these machines straight of the bat, can come and play with it. They can learn about the technology; students can get exposed to it; researchers can get exposed to it. So this really underpins what we are trying to achieve at Line Zero, which is attracting that Australian technology,” explained Wilson during the July 9, 2021, AML3D Open Day event when the company unveiled another facility, its multimillion-dollar South Australian headquartered WAM Technology Centre.
AML3D had immense growth in the last year. Early in 2020, the company began trading on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) after successfully raising AU$9 million (roughly $6.6 million) with strong institutional backing. During this time, it even had to quadruple its staff to more than 30 people due to high demand from new customers like Boeing, Thyssen Krupp, and ST Engineering.
Even more so, following the unveiling of its new facility and the upcoming inauguration of the center in Line Zero, the company estimates more job growth in the next months. AML3D is also very active with research, recently entering a Joint Research Program with Flinders University’s Microscopy and Microanalysis and the Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology to investigate corrosion resistance properties of WAM produced components for marine environments.
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