IMCRC activate increases life of Australian fence infrastructure

IMCRC activate

InfraBuild’s wire manufacturing in Newcastle. Image: InfraBuild.

IMCRC activate – a collaborative research project between the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), InfraBuild and the CSIRO – is set to increase the life of fencing infrastructure in Australia, cutting replacement costs. 

The project, made possible with $100,000 funding through IMCRC’s activate program, will modernise Australian steel manufacturer InfraBuild’s finishing process by introducing CSIRO’s solid state, low-cost additive Cold Spray ZAP technology. 

CSIRO’s cold spray technology works by applying a high-strength, recycled corrosion-resistant coating to steel that produces more damage and corrosion resistant products, particularly in soil. 

By employing the use of robotic coating application technology, InfraBuild and CSIRO will develop a fully automated digital manufacturing production line, improving productivity and increasing cost competitiveness. 

The IMCRC activate project is enabling InfraBuild to explore the technology as an alternative coating option, advance its manufacturing process and create new innovative steel products for several sectors, InfraBuild Wire director of Technical Bradley Taylor said. 

“As part of IMCRC’s activate project, we aim to develop high-value, cost-effective steel products that will deliver benefits to many sectors, from our primary producers and rural sectors to nation building infrastructure,” he said. 

“By integrating CSIRO’s Cold Spray ZAP™ technology in our manufacturing process, we will be able to manufacture longer-lasting, damage resistant, coated steel products that have the ability to withstand aggressive environments. Saving our customers money over the full life of each product.” 

CSIRO research director, Advanced Materials and Processing, Dr Kathie McGregor, recognised the important role that initiatives like IMCRC activate play in developing local industry capability and creating globally relevant commercial products. 

“CSIRO aims to accelerate sustainable manufacturing that is globally competitive, which we can achieve through collaboration with Australian industry,” McGregor said. “This project will help us develop our Cold Spray ZAP™ technology into a leading-edge, commercially viable and scalable solution to manufacture corrosion-resistant steel products in Australia.” 

Dr Matthew Young, IMCRC’s Manufacturing Innovation manager, said IMCRC was delighted to be co-funding the development of an Australian manufactured innovative steel fencing that would address the national challenge of in soil steel corrosion. 

“This research collaboration is enabling InfraBuild and CSIRO to solve a nationwide challenge, improving the sustainability of fencing in Australia under some of the toughest environmental conditions on earth,” Young said. “It’s an example of what can be achieved through investment in shorter-term collaborations between Australian manufacturing and research organisations that activate program has been specifically designed to address.  

“The innovative coatings developed as part of this project, if successful, will significantly increase the life of selected InfraBuild steel products, cutting costs associated with production, installation and corrosion. IMCRC is pleased to be contributing to the development of a scalable steel product that has wide ranging applications and the potential to benefit many sectors in Australia and beyond.”