Swinburne University of Technology is expanding its world-leading manufacturing capabilities through a new multimillion-dollar partnership with Melbourne-based additive manufacturing company Titomic.
The collaboration will bring Titomic’s TKF1000 system to Swinburne, one of only two such 3D printing systems ever built. The machine saves money, time and precious metal resources by replacing long, slow and expensive labour-based methods to create space vehicle parts with a rapid-build process.
Supported by a $2.3 million Australian Government Modern Manufacturing Initiative grant, this will enable the creation of lighter, stronger and more capable structures for space using materials such as low carbon emission ‘green’ titanium. This includes rocket nozzles, satellite components and high-performance coatings for radiation shielding and hypersonic protection.
Director of Swinburne’s Space Technology and Industry Institute Professor Alan Duffy described the grant as a huge step forward for Australia’s manufacturing sector and an opportunity to leapfrog international competition in space.
“This grant takes the longstanding collaboration between Titomic and Swinburne University of Technology to a new level, building Australia’s reputation as an innovative and high-value space manufacturing nation,” says Professor Duffy.
“We welcome companies and researchers to access this national space manufacturing facility in Victoria.”
New frontiers, new possibilities
This will be the first TKF1000 system at an Australian university and further extends the capabilities of the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Surface Engineering for Advanced Materials (SEAM) , which is led by Swinburne Distinguished Professor Christopher Berndt.
Using this technology, students, researchers and industry partners will be able to create large components in a faster and more environmentally responsible way, while opening exciting new possibilities for combining advanced material science at SEAM with cutting edge industrial additive manufacturing.
Senior Research Engineer Dr Andrew Ang says the technology is a game-changer for Swinburne and the Australian space industry, in a sector that is projected to be worth US$1.1 trillion globally by 2040.
“Currently in traditional subtractive manufacturing, up to 90% of materials are machined off during the production of aerospace parts. This technology will allow us to load a file and print a near net shape object, just like a 3D printer but at a much faster rate. No other technology can currently do this at this scale,” he says.
“Most importantly, it will allow us to train the next generation of Australian space industry workers and grow our biggest asset – our people.”
Unparalleled learning experience
Swinburne University of Technology Vice-Chancellor Pascale Quester welcomed the grant and hailed both its educational potential and the economic value.
“Having the TKF1000 additive manufacturing system in the heart of Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus offers our students direct access to a world-leading technology facility in the growing advanced manufacturing and space sector,” says Professor Quester.
“It’s a learning experience you cannot find anywhere else in Australia.”
“We’re proud to be partnering with Titomic on this exciting new facility, and grateful to the Commonwealth Government for their foresight in funding a collaboration that will help shape our future economy.”