GE Additive, a subsidiary of General Electric, and the University of Sydney have entered into a strategic five-year agreement to advance Australia’s manufacturing capability.
Additive manufacturing uses data computer-aided-design (CAD) software or 3D object scanners to direct hardware to deposit material, layer upon layer, in precise geometric shapes, to create an object.
The technology can be used to build advanced metallic structures such as alloys and aircraft engines. By contrast, when you create an object by traditional means, it is often necessary to remove material through milling, machining, carving, shaping or other means.
The agreement will establish capabilities in metal additive manufacturing technology at the Sydney Manufacturing Hub, a space for training specialists and academics working in additive manufacturing, and the incubation of small to medium manufacturing enterprises.
Located at the University of Sydney’s Darlington campus, the Sydney Manufacturing Hub will enable advanced alloy design and applications to support a range of sectors including aerospace, defence, medicine and agriculture.
The parties will work together on developing the broader advanced manufacturing agenda within New South Wales and Australia, following an agreement with the New South Wales state government to develop additive manufacturing capabilities in Western Sydney.
Advanced manufacturing accounts for half of Australia’s manufacturing output and is one of the fastest growing export sectors. The output of Australian manufacturing is estimated to reach $131 billion by 2026, with advanced manufacturing potentially growing the domestic sector by approximately $30 billion over the next 5 years.
GE Australia country leader, Sam Maresh, said the project is a breakthrough for Australia’s advanced manufacturing industry.
“Via the Sydney Manufacturing Hub, Australian manufacturers and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) will now have ready access to GE’s own production-grade additive technology,” he said.
GE Additive general manager of engineering and technology, Chris Schuppe, said the company was committed to delivering specialist consultation, global-standard training, and industry workshops to enable key additive manufacturing research projects at the University of Sydney.
“We’d encourage Australia’s advanced manufacturing industry to leverage this opportunity to experience additive manufacturing in a fully supported environment.”
“We are very excited to embark on a pioneering research program with GE Additive over the next five years. There is a huge amount of interest and excitement from both industry and the academic community, with whom we look forward to sharing our facilities and cutting-edge additive manufacturing technology,” said University of Sydney Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison.
“The agreement is a significant catalyst in enhancing the advanced manufacturing capability of both the University and the region, which could bolster Australia’s competitive edge,” he said.
University of Sydney Director of Core Research Facilities and Faculty of Engineering academic, Professor Simon Ringer, said that the recent COVID-19 crisis had exposed the country to vulnerabilities due to dependence on complex, “just-in-time” supply chains – something that can be improved with additive manufacturing.
“Pre-COVID-19, a national focus on manufacturing resilience was generally regarded as a nice thought. We have long believed this needs to be a critical national priority, and COVID-19 has raised the stakes. GE Additive and the University of Sydney, working alongside government and Australian SMEs, will be at the forefront of delivering this capability,” said Ringer.
“A manufacturing renaissance is coming and for Australia to lead in this space, there must be an investment in skills. Through the use of a smart facility, the University of Sydney is best placed to develop them and bring forward a new era of innovation.
“Our commitment to this area is backed by a recent report released by the NSW Office of Chief Scientist and Engineer, outlining the significant economic return our world-leading research infrastructure provides to the state and nation.”
Sectors set to benefit from the reinvigoration of manufacturing using additive technologies include aerospace and space, the defence industry, robotics platforms, medical devices, construction, agricultural-tech, oil and gas, and mining.