The Circular Economy

In August 2020 we hosted a webinar to highlight circular economy practices and challenges, both in Australia and around the world.

A circular economy is a system aimed at encouraging sustainability through the continuous use of resources and reducing or eliminating waste. Business and industries around the world have adopted circular methods to achieve sustainable processes. There is also an increasing trend to national and regional policies on aspects of circularity, most recently in Australia. However, to achieve a truly sustainable circular economy requires market, industry, social, and policy innovation, and global progress to date has been slow. 

Associate Professor Gavin Melles discussed the origins of circular economy relative to sustainability, current policy and implementation. He also drew on the contribution of recent circular design proposals and tools. Dr Stacey Konash, discussed different circular business models, focussing on remanufacturing: drivers, barriers and opportunities for R&D.   

Manufacturing Transformation in the Time of COVID-19 and Beyond

The emergence of COVID-19 and its disruptive effect on all parts of the manufacturing supply chain, has demonstrated in unprecedented ways the need for rapid and innovative solutions.

Many manufacturers around the world have been meeting the call for increased demand for items such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by transforming their production lines to produce new products often in unrelated areas. This, however, has not been without challenges.

In July 2020 in partnership with SEMMA, the Manufacturing Futures Research Institute explored in this webinar how manufacturing organisations can meet the needs of fast changing consumer demand in challenging circumstances. 

Industry 4.0 Australian-German Partnerships 2020

Our institute hosted the first in a series of manufacturing forums aimed at encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to engage with Swinburne. 

Held in February 2020 at Engineers Australia in Melbourne, our team provided attendees with an overview of the exciting projects and partnerships we currently have underway. Chris Gilbey from Imagine Intelligent Materials then spoke about the benefits of partnering with Swinburne, followed by presentations from some of our key partners such as Dr Dominik Rohrmus, head of the Manufacturing Systems research group at Siemens Corporate Technology, and Professor Frithjof Klasen, who leads the Institute of Automation and Industrial IT at Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

Dr Rohrmus discussed the Industry 4.0 Testlab network and 5G activities in Europe, and Professor Klasen presented on the current trends in communication technology (PROFINET, OPC UA, TSN, 5G) with applications and experience from industrial projects.

Watch the webinar here.

Graphene+ 2019 conference

We were proud to host the Australian Graphene Industry Association (AGIA) 2019 Graphene+ Enabled Smart Cities conference, held on 19 November 2019 at Swinburne. The conference focused on the role of graphene in revolutionising the functionality of buildings and improving productivity in construction, infrastructure, energy and mobility.

The event featured expert panellists including our institute’s Foundation Director, Professor Bronwyn Fox, and Swinburne Research Engineer Dr Lachlan Hyde. Notable speakers included Professor Victoire de Margerie (Vice President of the World Materials Forum) Professor Hugh Bradlow (President of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE)) and Dr Amanda Caples (Victoria’s Lead Scientist). 

Graphene Week 2019

Swinburne researchers Professor Bronwyn Fox and Dr Lachlan Hyde presented at Europe's leading Graphene Conference in September 2019 in Helsinki, Finland. Professor Fox spoke about incorporating graphene into carbon fibre composites for structural health monitoring applications, and Lachlan presented on Graphene Certification Labs. Dr Hyde also took the opportunity to visit the Finland office of Imagine, who form the Graphene Certification Labs partnership with the Manufacturing Futures Research Institute.

Graphene Week 2019, Manufacturing Futures Research Institute

Graphene Research Forum 2019

The Graphene Research Forum in September 2019 provided a networking opportunity for all graphene researchers within Swinburne to exchange ideas, establish and reinforce multidisciplinary collaborations, and target some key challenges identified within the field.

Next generation materials, particularly graphene-related research, form a diverse range of projects and outcomes for the Manufacturing Futures Research Institute. These range from low-cost material synthesis and characterisation, thin film coating and functional composite engineering, to advanced graphene device fabrication and a complete graphene supply chain investigation.

The Graphene Research Forum, September 2019

ICCM 2019

The International Conference on Composite Materials (ICCM) is the premier international conference in the field of composite materials, providing a forum for the presentation, exchange and discussion of the latest research into these materials and their applications. 

Professor Bronwyn Fox was a member of the team who successfully bid for Melbourne to host the 22nd ICCM in August 2019. The conference theme was “Advanced Composites: Research to Impact”, with the objective of exploring the latest research into composite materials and how they will be used in the future. This covered multiple applications including aerospace, construction, wind energy, automotive, electronics and more.

The event was sponsored and attended by Global Innovation Linkages Program partners from around the world — a program that awarded Swinburne $1 million of funding in 2019 towards Industry 4.0 manufacturing. 

Professor Fox gave a plenary talk at the conference as well as chairing the Women in Composites Leadership Forum. She also participated in the Industry Discussion Forum and Boeing panel focused on industry and research collaboration.

The International Conference on Composite Materials 2019

Graphene+ 2018 conference

The Graphene+ conference in October 2018 was held in partnership with the Australian Graphene Industry Association to discuss the future of graphene and its various applications. Over 100 entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, scientists, executives and political leaders attended. Following the conference, a roundtable discussion on the opportunities, challenges and barriers to Australia’s graphene industry was hosted at Swinburne.

Find out more.

Professor Bronwyn Fox presenting at the Graphene+ 2018 conference

Significant outcomes

2018 GCMM Research Leadership Award

The Foundation Director of our institute, Professor Bronwyn Fox, has been awarded the 2018 Global Congress on Manufacturing and Management Research Leadership award. The award recognises Professor Fox’s work as an industry leader with more than two decades of experience in composites and advanced manufacturing. 

Find out more

ARENA 2036 membership

Swinburne has become the first Australian university to be made a full member of ARENA 2036, a flexible factory of the future on the University of Stuttgart’s Baden-Wuerttemberg campus. Swinburne and University of Stuttgart researchers will collaborate with the German research campus to develop the next generation of lightweight materials and automated production processes. 

The agreement to formalise the partnership was signed on 19 November 2018, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in April 2016 between Swinburne, ARENA 2036 and the University of Stuttgart. Professor Bronwyn Fox has led the coordination of the partnership and says it will further cement Swinburne’s position at the forefront of Industry 4.0.

Find out more.


Imagine Intelligent Materials

Imagine Intelligent Materials (Imagine) identified graphene as a material that could be used to create smart composites that sense and report real-time dimensional changes in composites. Working with Imagine, we’re utilising our unique expertise in composite manufacturing and sensor technologies to develop graphene-reinforced smart composites.


We partnered with INNOFOCUS Photonics Technology Pty Ltd (INNOFOCUS) to help develop graphene-based ultra‐portable glasses for the consumer market. This project is focused on value-added manufacturing and the industrialisation of graphene products and device manufacturing. It combines the large-scale and high-quality graphene film manufacture capacity from INNOFOCUS with the advanced photonics design expertise of the Manufacturing Futures Research Institute. This project shows that graphene can find niche applications in ultra-lightweight, highly integrated devices ready for the consumer market. The project has now progressed into a five-year joint project under the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme.

IoT-based home appliance system

In partnership with TJ Supply Limited Partnership and Naresuan University we developed an Internet of Things (IoT)-based home appliance system, aka a ‘smart fan’. Our system developed, captured, detected, identified and analysed real‐time data of individual users through face recognition algorithms, while the control unit automatically adjusted the cooling system based upon the thermal comfort of the individuals. The smartness of the system increased the overall efficiency as well as comfort. 

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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

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