Monash University recently announced the opening of its new Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing (M-CAM), which has been established to drive the establishment of a high-end, waste-free, tailored manufacturing for the aerospace industry.

The event was officially opened by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Member for Chisholm, Ms Anna Burke MP. Heavyweights of the aerospace field – Microturbo, European Space Agency, NASA Langley Research Centre, Airbus, BAE Systems and Carpenter Technology USA – were all represented at the launch.

A revolutionary technology, additive manufacturing, including 3D printing, builds products through a layering process directly from digital designs. It’s a thriving area in research and already has the capacity of creating small aero engines.

Traditionally, manufacturing methods require the creation of moulds and casting components, or honing them from large billets of metal, which can result in up to 95% wastage. Yet, additive manufacturing builds products from the ground up and is virtually waste-free, while designs can be easily adjusted. It reduces energy and materials usage, is not reliant on economies of scale for profit and it shortens design-to-product cycle times.

“Additive manufacturing is a transformative technology – it has been described as underpinning a new industrial revolution,” said Monash University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Ed Byrne, stating that the combination of expertise and high-end facilities at M-CAM were world-class. “At Monash we have recognised this potential and actively sought to recruit the knowledge and build the infrastructure required to be a regional, if not global, leader in the field.”

With an initial focus on titanium and nickel high-performance alloys – as Australia currently provides 51% of the world’s titanium ore, a vital material for aerospace innovation – M-CAM will provide leadership in the establishment of an Australian aerospace industry while value-adding to the country’s titanium production.

“M-CAM is going to drive the development of a field that will have myriad economic and environmental benefits,” said Director of M-CAM, Professor Xinhua Wu, who also heads the ARC Centre of Excellence for Design in Light Metals and is internationally respected in the field of advanced manufacturing.

“We are making components more quickly and more cheaply whilst maintaining the same, if not better performance,” said Professor Xinhua Wu. “This not only creates cost and time savings at the manufacturing stage, but will also enable new and innovative designs that reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Further, the massive material waste reduction in this type of manufacturing will extend the life of our mineral reserves.”

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