Digital Design Program

Creating opportunities to innovate products, supply chain and production or delivery systems and aiming for optimisation in performance, cost and sustainability.

Led by Associate Professor Boris Eisenbart, the Digital Design program leverages Swinburne’s product design, strategic design and engineering expertise to create novel solutions for manufacturing to Industry 4.0 standards, product and business management, and systems solutions for sustainability.

This work aims to provide solutions and strategies applicable to individual parts and processes, as well as entire systems across diverse fields that include automotive, aerospace, production and medical devices.

Research streams:

Rethinking how we do things, creating innovation by and through design. Leverage the potential of cutting-edge computational design for multi-target optimisation: performance, cost, Takt time, etc.

Utilising newest developments in virtual/augmented reality to drive design for manufacture and manufacturing planning and optimisation.

Applying systems thinking to create truly sustainable solutions, measuring and improving life-cycle impacts.

Research stream 1: Design-driven Product and Manufacturing Innovation


This stream aims to push the boundaries of how we do things as the bigger picture, how to develop strategies for products, services and systems to address customers and markets that lie just behind the horizon. We leverage the team’s excellent technical knowledge to generate equally creative, innovation but also viable and actionable solutions. We utilise advanced computational tools to apply cross-disciplinary optimisation.

Central elements are:

  • Early-stage concept assessment & selection
  • Computation modelling and simulation
  • Design for manufacture, Design for X

In this context, we aim to help Australian industry to advance on their capability to utilise the full potential of design and its role within the emerging Industry 4.0. We are heavily involved with the world’s first Industry 4.0 Testlab for smart design and manufacture of fibre-reinforced composite parts.


Design for X: Optimisation of performance and cost for structural parts in automotive

This project aims to push the boundaries of multi-target computational design optimisation and design/manufacturing planning and automation. We use cutting-edge software tools tying together multiple Computer-Aided Engineering systems to create part designs for structural and functional components in cars, combining materials, geometry and processes ideally for optimal performance and cost at the same time.

Medical devices helping to transport patients on planes

In this project, we develop versatile solutions that will help transporting patients and people with mobility impairment on planes. Moving mobility impaired patients onto planes and securing them during taxi, lift-off, flight and landing is often an extremely difficult and time intensive (and thus costly) matter. Using expertise in human-centred design, materials and manufacturing, we develop stretcher-like solutions made from composites that will speed up the process of moving patients in and out of the plane, but also to secure them on the seats of a plane with maximum comfort.

Supporting concept assessment in evolutionary engineering design

In this project we seek to support small and medium-sized companies with the transition to the new Industry 4.0 paradigm, expected digitalisation and standards. We are developing engineering design methods tailored to support organisations transition their practices and products by assessing concept alternatives and how to adapt their products with digital capabilities. Through investigating system modelling, function reasoning and risk assessment, it is our objective to provide a cohesive method which will expedite the evolution of these organisations in becoming early adopters of new and still unknown technologies.

Research stream 2: Mixed-Reality Design and Manufacturing

Within this research stream we target to advance the use of virtual and augmented reality to help engineering designers conceive better solutions early, but also to connect design will production planning much earlier in the process. We envision visualisation of solutions in a virtual or mixed-reality environment for a fully integrated digital chain – from initial designs to production and assembly planning.

Central key words are:

  • AR/VR collaborative design
  • Virtual manufacturing/factory
  • Ergonomics
  • Digital twins


Extended Reality for Manufacturing Industries

In this project we seek to develop XR (extended reality) technologies that will help virtually simulating part design and production before making it physical, but also to do training and upskilling workers to perform associated manual production tasks or quality control for these very parts guided by visual cues ensuring execution to the highest standards → depending on which parts comes over the assembly line, the exact, relevant instructions are given to the workers what to do with it. This includes providing feedback on execution of tasks using motion capture to prevent injury.

Research stream 3: Design for Sustainability

This stream aims at rethinking how we create and use products sustainably. We look at the entire life-cycle from how we design products and systems to be inherently less resource intensive in the way they are built, how they work (energy and resource consumption), how they are created (energy-efficiency and impact of production processes), their different use phases and ultimately second or third life and re-cycling into new forms of usage or products.

Central key words are:

  • Product lifecycle management (PLM)
  • Circular economy
  • Modelling and decision making
  • Design for efficiency and efficient manufacture


Utilisation of by products of Steel Plants for High Value Ceramic Products

This project aims to produce high value ceramics products from various by-products from Metals Industries (e.g. slags and dusts from steel plants, copper plants). The project will involve the mixing of various oxides/metals by products from the plants for optimised composition of the target products. Some of the target products include (but not limited to) ceramic catalysts, basalt stepping stones, ceramic filters, 3D printing materials. Adding some additional materials and targeted short oxidation/reduction can be applied accordingly, before melting and casting of the mixture; and further manufacturing.

Contact the Manufacturing Futures Research Institute

There are many ways to engage with us. If your organisation is dealing with a complex problem, then get in touch to discuss how we can work together to provide solutions.

Call +61 3 9214 5177