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Swinburne to Establish Industry 4.0 Testlab: To use 3D Printing to Manufacture Carbon composites

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Australia’s Swinburne Institute of Technology announced that it is establishing the world’s first operational Industry 4.0 Testlab for carbon composite manufacturing. The Testlab is being established to advance the university’s research in to digital manufacturing processes. One of the key highlights of the Testlab is the world’s first industrial scale 3D Printing approach to carbon fibre composite manufacture.

This approach towards carbon fibre composite manufacture has been developed by Fill – an Austria-based engineering company. Carbon fibre composites are engineered materials that offer infinite design flexibility and make it possible to manufacture smart products. However, these composites are difficult to produce on a large scale and in high volumes because of limitations of traditional ways of manufacturing and high labour costs.

However, Swinburne aims to overcome this and has already forged partnerships with industry players to build Australia’s first mature Industry 4.0 carbon fibre composite product Testlab.  In fact, to demonstrate manufacture of actual commercial parts in an integrated pilot line, Swinburne has already partnered with three equipment manufacturers and one supplier.

Speaking about how the Testlab will benefit Australian companies, Professor Bronwyn Fox, Director of Swinburne’s Manufacturing Futures Research Institute said, “The Industry 4.0 Testlab will enable Australian manufacturers to have access to cutting edge technology.

Professor Bronwyn Fox, Director of Swinburne's Manufacturing Futures Research

Above: Professor Bronwyn Fox, Director of Swinburne’s Manufacturing Futures Research Institute/Image Credit: Swinburne University of Technology

“Swinburne, with our partners, will lead the world in providing digital manufacturing solutions to secure Australia’s place in the lucrative intermediate product market”, Professor Fox added.

The Testlab 4.0 is also poised to link Australian businesses to global value chains. Elaborating on this further, Professor Fox said, “Swinburne’s Industry 4.0 Testlab will actively link Australian SMEs into global value chains as we are already doing with our partners.”

“Through our partnership with global OEMs we have identified that the real opportunity for Australian industry is not in the raw materials but in the high value-add digital design, simulation and manufacture of products,” added Professor Fox.

Swinburne Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), Professor Aleksander Subic, said new generation materials such as carbon fibre composites are at the heart of Swinburne’s Industry 4.0 Testlab and Factory of the Future.

“In order to make high value-add products from such materials affordable to manufacture on scale in Australia we are developing technologies and processes that have the potential to disrupt and transform the manufacturing and infrastructure industries,” Professor Subic added.

“The partnership with Fill (Austria) is of particular importance to our strategy as it allows us to introduce a unique form of 3D printing technology for composite products to our lab and fully automate the process.

“This will be the first Industry 4.0 fully operational pilot plant of its kind in the world, offering unique educational and research opportunities to our students, staff and industry partners, Professor Subic concluded.”


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