Led by Associate Professor Boris Eisenbart, this program leverages our expertise in product design, strategic design and engineering to create novel solutions for manufacturing to Industry 4.0 standards, product and business management, and systems solutions for sustainability. 

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

There are three research streams in this program:

  1. design-driven product and manufacturing innovation
  2. mixed-reality design and manufacturing
  3. design for sustainability

1. Design-driven product and manufacturing innovation

This stream aims to push the boundaries of how to develop strategies for products, services and systems to address customers and markets that lie just beyond the horizon. Our team’s technical knowledge generates not only creative and innovative but also viable and actionable solutions, and we use advanced computational tools to apply cross-disciplinary optimisation. 

The central elements of this stream are: 

  1. early-stage concept assessment and selection

  2. computation modelling and simulation

  3. design for manufacture, design for X.

We want to help the Australian industry 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 the manufacture of fibre-reinforced composite parts. 


In partnership with Ford Motor Company, we’re aiming to push the boundaries of:

  • multi-target computational design optimisation 

  • design/manufacturing planning and automation. 

Our research is employing cutting-edge software tools that bring together multiple computer-aided engineering systems to create ‘part’ designs for structural and functional components in cars. We’re combining materials, geometry and processes for optimal performance and cost.

In partnership with Medical Connect, we’re developing versatile solutions that will help transport patients and people with mobility impairment on planes. Moving people with mobility issues in and out of planes and ensuring their safety for the flight is often extremely difficult, time-intensive and costly. 

Using our expertise in human-centred design, materials and manufacturing, we’re developing stretcher-like solutions made from composites that will not only speed up the process of moving patients in and out of the plane, but also help secure them comfortably on plane seats.

We're supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the transition to the new Industry 4.0 (I4.0) paradigm, expected digitalisation and standards. 

This project is focused on developing engineering design methods tailored to support the I4.0 transition of SME practices and products. We’re assessing concept alternatives and how to adapt products using digital capabilities. By investigating system modelling, function reasoning and risk assessment, we aim to provide a cohesive method that will expedite the evolution of these SMEs in becoming early adopters of new and evolving technologies.

2. Mixed-reality design and manufacturing

Within this research stream we’re using virtual and augmented reality to help engineering designers conceive better solutions and connect design with production planning much earlier in the process. Our aim is the visualisation of solutions in a virtual or mixed-reality environment for a fully integrated digital chain — from initial designs to production and assembly planning. 

The central elements of this stream are:

  1. AR/VR collaborative design

  2. virtual manufacturing/factory

  3. ergonomics

  4. digital twins.


In partnership with Magna Steyr (an automobile company in Austria) and Technical University Graz (Austria), we're developing extended reality (XR) technologies that will help with virtually simulating ‘part’ design and production, before physical production begins. 

The flow-on effects of this research include:

  1. training and upskilling workers to perform associated manual production tasks

  2. better quality control, as workers can be guided by visual cues

  3. improved injury prevention as feedback on the execution of tasks can be provided using motion capture.

3. Design for sustainability

This stream rethinks how we create and use products sustainably. We look at the entire life-cycle: 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 second- or third-life options that are available through recycling into new forms of usage or products.

The central elements of this stream are:

  • product lifecycle management (PLM)

  • circular economy

  • modelling and decision making

  • design for efficiency and efficient manufacture.


In partnership with Looking, we’re producing high-value ceramic products using various byproducts from the metal industries (for example, slags and dusts from steel plants and copper plants). 

Our research involves mixing various oxide/metal byproducts from metal plants to optimise the composition of the target products, such as ceramic catalysts, basalt stepping stones, ceramic filters and 3D printing materials. 

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Contact the Manufacturing Futures Research Institute

If your organisation would like to collaborate with us to solve a complex problem, or you simply want to contact our team, get in touch by calling +61 3 9214 5177 or emailing mfi@swinburne.edu.au

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