Centre for surface engineering for advanced materials opens at Swinburne

Swinburne has opened the largest manufacturing research and development centre of its kind in Australia.

With $4.9 million in federal funding, the Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre in Surface Engineering for Advanced Materials (SEAM), opened on Wednesday, September 4.

Working in collaboration with the University of South Australia and RMIT University, as well as 29 industry partners, the Centre will look into surface engineering problems, and find novel ways to improve the service life or function of a products exterior. Methods such as corrosion resistance, antibacterial properties, or wear protection are some of the ways that the lifetime of products will be improved.

“The research done by our universities can lead to the development of new products and innovations that drive job growth, business opportunities and productivity gains,” said Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, at the centre’s launch.

With wear and corrosion estimated to cost up to five per cent of GDP in a country such as Australia, improved surface coating technologies can make an impact. This is particularly true of precision manufacturing such as for medical devices.

13 projects over five years will be explored by over 77 researchers. These include the refurbishment and remanufacturing of large, high value components for the mining sector, developing antibacterial films for medical implants, minimising downtime through additive manufacturing in the aerospace and automotive industry, and improving the service life of components in marine vessels.

“Through this national industry research training centre we will be working closely with our industry partners and research collaborators to create impact on scale through development of a new generation of research workforce that will be embedded in industry. This is consistent with our impact oriented strategy that aims to transform industries and shape lives and communities,” said deputy vice-chancellor (research and development), Professor Aleksandar Subic.

During the projects lifetime, a future workforce of trained and competent students will go through SEAM. Students and researchers will work with industry on projects for up to a year.

“Often we receive feedback from industry that it can take up to 12 months or more to train up a new employee. The concept for SEAM is to provide the surface engineering industry with ‘plug and play’ graduates. SEAM graduates will have the necessary knowledge and basic skills in surface engineering to help their employees without the steep learning curve,” said distinguished professor, Chris Berndt, who will lead SEAM at Swinburne.