CSIRO unveils Australia’s first multi-metal 3D printer for aerospace manufacturing

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CSIRO unveils Australia’s first multi-metal 3D printer for aerospace manufacturing
SLM 280 metal 3D printer at CSIRO Clayton/Source: iLAuNCH

CSIRO, the Australian Government agency responsible for scientific research, recently announced that it is unveiling Australia’s first multi-metal 3D printer. This project is carried out as part of the iLAuNCH Trailblazer initiative. It used the Nikon SLM-280 metal 3D printer installed at CSIRO’s Lab22 facility.

This cutting-edge technology seeks to reduce the cost and efficiency of space missions by producing aerospace components that are lighter, faster, and more durable.

iLAuNCH Trailblazer initiative

The Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications, and Hypersonics Hub (iLAuNCH) programme is a collaboration of regional institutions led by the University of Southern Queensland, The Australian National University, and the University of South Australia.

iLAuNCH is part of the Australian Government’s Trailblazer Universities Programme, which is run by the Department of Education. The Australian Government will use this Programme to develop new research capabilities, drive commercialisation outcomes, and invest in new industry engagement opportunities.

Multi-metal 3D printer for aerospace manufacturing

This latest advancement is especially well-suited for aerospace applications that require high performance and lightweight materials, allowing engineers to create components that are both structurally efficient and cost-effective.

“This capability is the first of its kind in Australia and the southern hemisphere. iLAuNCH is thrilled to open up new manufacturing possibilities for locally made aerospace products.”

– Dr. Joni Sytsma, chief technology officer of iLAuNCH Trailblazer

The introduction of this multi-metal 3D printer is expected to provide a competitive advantage to Australian satellite and rocket manufacturers.

These companies can improve performance while reducing lead times and costs by optimising designs and streamlining manufacturing processes from their Melbourne headquarters.

Furthermore, the technology shows promise for developing new super alloys capable of withstanding extremely high temperatures, which is critical for the advancement of hypersonic air transportation.

Fabricating complex geometries

The printer’s ability to create complex geometries in a single process has important implications for other industries, such as automotive racing, which requires lightweight, high-strength components.

Dr. Cherry Chen, senior research scientist at CSIRO, highlighted the multi-metal 3D printer’s wide range of applications, which include satellite structures, novel radiation shielding, and high-performance heat exchangers.

“Other uses to consider include satellite structure and componentry, as well as developing novel radiation shielding with alloys that are in development in the various laboratories under the iLAuNCH Trailblazer,” noted Dr Chen.

The multi-metal iteration of the SLM-280 significantly improves upon its standard counterpart, a model that has already garnered international recognition for its versatility and performance.

Notable accomplishments include the creation of a monolithic thrust chamber for a rocket propulsion engine featuring a unique lattice structure in collaboration with CellCore GmbH, an engineering firm based in Berlin; the development of a hydraulic valve block in partnership with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, resulting in a remarkable 66% reduction in size and 76% reduction in weight; and the production of a gooseneck bracket with ASCO, a Belgian aerospace.

Donald Godfrey, global director of Business Development for Aviation and Defence at Nikon SLM Solutions, emphasised the shift in metal bonding technology, pointing out that traditional methods such as Hot Isostatic Pressure (HIP) or welding and brazing of dissimilar metals had been used for decades.

“This is the first time Laser Powder Bed Fusion technology has been exported from Germany to produce a truly functionally graded material component for CSIRO. This technology establishes a new standard in the aerospace, defence, and space industries for what is possible,” Godfrey explained.

About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D Printing. Visit our Global News page for more updates on Global 3D Printing News. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. Follow us on Google News.

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Abhimanyu Chavan is the founder of Manufactur3D Magazine. He writes on Additive Manufacturing technology, interviews industry leaders, shares industry insights, and expresses his thoughts on the latest developments in the industry. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
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