Swinburne plans industrial 3D printer for world-first Industry 4.0 Testlab

Director of Swinburne's Manufacturing Futures Research Institute, Professor Bronwyn Fox

Swinburne University of Technology is to build the world’s first operational Industry 4.0 Testlab for carbon composite manufacturing as part of its research into digital manufacturing processes.

The facility will become home to the world’s first industrial scale 3D printing “multilayer” approach to carbon fibre composite manufacture, developed by Austrian engineering company, Fill.

Fill’s unique Multilayer printing technology will be able to produce commercial parts out of carbon fibre at a cheaper cost, according to a announcement on Monday, with minimal waste and improved production capability.

Swinburne has partnered with three equipment manufacturers and one supplier to demonstrate the manufacture of actual commercial parts in an integrated pilot line, which will include resin dispensing and curing in addition to the Multilayer process.

Carbon fibre composites are engineered materials offering infinite design flexibility and the opportunity to manufacture smart products.

However, they are currently difficult to produce in high volumes on a commercial scale due to limitations on manufacturing speed and high labour costs.

“With our industrial partners, we will create a digital twin of the process and push the boundaries of virtual commissioning,” says director of Swinburne’s Manufacturing Futures Research Institute, Professor Bronwyn Fox.

Swinburne’s move to implement the Industry 4.0 Testlab comes only months after receiving a record $135 industrial digitisation grant from engineering giant Siemens to digitise its Factory of the Future and create Australia’s first fully immersed Industry 4.0 facility.

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“Swinburne, with our partners, will lead the world in providing digital manufacturing solutions to secure Australia’s place in the lucrative intermediate product market.”

Products design and part manufacturer, Mulitmatic, is also partnering with Swinburne on the Multilayer process and Industry 4.0 Testlab to help maximise the opportunities for manufacturing processes and to develop a new product at competitive prices for the automotive industry.

“In order to make high value-add products from such materials affordable to manufacture on scale in Australia we are developing technologies and processes that have the potential to disrupt and transform the manufacturing and infrastructure industries,” said Swinburne’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), Professor Aleksander Subic.

“The partnership with Fill (Austria) is of particular importance to our strategy as it allows us to introduce a unique form of 3D printing technology for composite products to our lab and fully automate the process.

“In the final stage, we will digitalise the lab through our strategic partnership with Siemens and the $135 Million industrial digitalisation grant awarded to Swinburne at the end of last year.

“This will be the first Industry 4.0 fully operational pilot plant of its kind in the world, offering unique educational and research opportunities to our students, staff and industry partners.”

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