ECU took delivery of three Konica Minolta advanced 3D printers worth more than $400,000 earlier this year as the first step to developing an advanced additive manufacturing hub for local industry.
This included the ProJet 660Pro, the Mark Two desktop composite printer and the Markforged Metal X, which can produce fully functional complex metal parts from design to production within 72 hours.
Konica Minolta says the Markforged Metal X has the “unique capability to build honeycomb structures to make parts lighter and has the potential to produce commercial grade parts, helping industry to explore applications of mass customisation”.
Professor Daryoush Habibi, executive dean - School of Engineering, ECU, said, “Partnering with Konica Minolta is a positive move for ECU because of its global connections and strong support for the development of local additive manufacturing capabilities.
“ECU would like to see local companies, particularly in the mining and health sectors, be supported by a thriving manufacturing industry in WA and nationally. This year has particularly reinforced the need for local manufacturing capabilities and ECU is exploring the innovative applications for 3D printing to transform this industry.”
ECU VC Research Fellow, Dr Ana Vafadar, is using the Markforged Metal X for the design and manufacture of innovative heat exchangers, and said, “This advanced manufacturing method has significant potential to facilitate the development of high-efficiency heat exchangers due to the complex, geometric freedom this manufacturing technique offers.”
Matthew Hunter, innovation product marketing manager, Konica Minolta, said, “COVID-19 has highlighted the need for manufacturing processes to be brought back onshore and 3D printing has a significant role to play in boosting local manufacturing and supply.
“Helping ECU build its hub by providing 3D printing equipment, as well as collaborating on training and engagement days, will assist Konica Minolta in demonstrating the value that additive manufacturing has in the local market. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to 3D printing, and some equipment and material is better for some applications than others, so creating a hub equipped with multiple machines ensures the best experience.
“The hub will help the industry in multiple ways with students gaining access to real-world experience and applications, which will ultimately further advance the industry when these students enter the workforce.
“In addition, manufacturers in WA will be able to access the equipment as well as the engineering expertise inside ECU, to test their proofs of concept before committing to investing in 3D printing equipment of their own. Ultimately, this partnership with ECU will help drive the adoption of 3D technology in the local market.”