May 25, 2015 | By Lilian

CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), Australia's national science agency, has unveiled a $6 million metal 3D printing centre in Victoria called Lab 22 which is designed to accelerate adoption of metal 3D printing in Australia.

The centre is located at CSIRO Process Science and Engineering in Clayton, Victoria, about 25km from Melbourne.

Lab 22 provides Australian companies with affordable access to specialist additive manufacturing equipment and expertise. It also offers huge efficiency and productivity benefits for product development. By lowering their capital investment risk and allowing companies to 'try before they buy', Lab 22 overcomes one of the major barriers facing smaller businesses in adopting 3D printing with metal.

CSIRO additive manufacturing research leader Alex Kingsbury

"This advanced equipment is in the range of $1 million per unit, but the vast majority of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) don't have that amount of capital on-hand to take a leap of faith on a new or emerging technology," CSIRO additive manufacturing research leader, Alex Kingsbury said in a statement.

"We're providing Australian companies with a unique opportunity to access some of the most advanced additive manufacturing equipment with the help of our experienced technical experts, for a comparatively minimal daily fee."

Australian 3D printing service companies, Made for Me and Keech3D, were the first companies to sign to use Lab 22's new space with the aim of growing their metal 3D printing services.

Ms Kingsbury said it was critical for companies to be able to take advantage of new technology and development if they are to remain internationally competitive.

Privately-funded Canberra-based start-up Made for Me is working to develop a network of 3D printers across Australia. Its network includes Redeye Australasia, 3DPrint-AU, Adelaide 3D Printing Services, Engineer 3D, AMAERO, Advanced Manufacturing Services, HiTech3D, 3D Printing Pty Ltd, and others.

"We've seen that Australian businesses want to find faster, local options for high-quality 3D printing, but have been going overseas for industrial-grade work because it has historically been too difficult to identify suitable local suppliers," said James Antifaev, co-founder and CEO of Made for Me.

Keech director Garth Keech, CSIRO's Alex Kingsbury and Keech CEO Herbert Hermens.

Industrial/mining component design and manufacturing company Keech 3D has added a 3D printing capability to its product development operations since last year. It purchased a $568,000 printer, the largest 3D printer in Australia in July. The printer is the size of a small room and is being used to make miniature, plastic models of mining machinery parts for the mining industry such as multi-national giants Rio Tinto and BHP.

"It is fantastic that CSIRO has chosen Keech 3D as the first company to have guaranteed access to their 3D printers and more importantly to the expertise of their staff in metals printing," Keech chief executive Herbert Hermens said.

"Now we are able to work together with CSIRO to educate our staff in the specialist skills for designing and printing in metals, and providing those items to our commercial clients."

"Lab 22 makes it much easier and affordable, so local companies can try out the equipment, use it to design or test new products or up skill their workforce – providing them with the tools to differentiate themselves, grow and get ahead of global competitors." Kingsbury added. "We've already signed up four industry partners and welcome more companies to get on board."

Lab 22's additive manufacturing equipment includes: Arcam A1, Concept Laser M2, Optomec LENS MR-7, Voxelject VX1000 and Cold Spray Plasma Giken.

CSIRO has partnered with industry on a range of world-firsts using its Arcam 3D printer, including a titanium heel bone implant to treat a cancer patient, a mouthguard for treating sleep apnoea and a customisable 'orthotic' for horses suffering laminitis.

Lab 22 experts can help companies tailor design solutions, and have the ability to capture 3D data and simulate both the manufacturing process and in-service part performance.

Cold spray deposition technology, laser heat treatment, surface engineering and advanced machinery are also available for use by companies.




Posted in 3D Printing Services


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