Australia’s first multi metal 3D printer installed at CSIRO


The commissioning of a new multi metal 3D printer in Melbourne as part of the iLAuNCH Trailblazer initiative is set to make space missions more affordable and efficient by creating lighter, faster and more robust aerospace components.

The Nikon SLM-280 (Selective Laser Melting) at CSIRO’s Lab22 facility will print metals side-by-side in one continuous print.

According to a statement the technology is well suited to aerospace and space where high performance and lightweight materials are the fundamental drivers of the designs, giving engineers the design freedom to consolidate parts to reduce mass and cost.

iLAuNCH Trailblazer Chief Technology Officer Dr Joni Sytsma said: “This capability is the first of its kind as a production machine in Australia, in fact the southern hemisphere, and iLAuNCH is pleased to open up new manufacturing possibilities for locally made products.

“Australian companies manufacturing satellites and rockets now have a real advantage to optimise their designs and improve performance, all made with a reduced lead time right here in Melbourne.

“We anticipate that the additional capabilities of this technology can also bring forth novel super alloys that are capable of maintaining ultra-high strength at the ultra-high temperatures that hypersonic vehicles need to survive.”

The manufacturing costs for these complex geometries are very high when limited to conventional manufacturing processes.

In rocket engines for example, typically liquid oxygen and fuel flow through the engine at an extremely high pressure, and there needs to be significant protection of the metal surfaces against oxidation.

This multi-metal printer allows the oxidative resistant layer to be manufactured in one go with the structural metal, speeding up production times and ultimately reducing the cost of the resultant structure.

CSIRO Senior Research Scientist Dr Cherry Chen said: “We welcome Australian researchers and industry to access this technology for ultra-high performance applications at CSIRO’s Lab22 Innovation Centre….at CSIRO in Clayton Victoria.

“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.”

Picture: iLAuNCH Trailblazer

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