Frontiers in additive manufacturing – ANCA’s hybrid AM development enters advanced phase

Our Frontiers in additive manufacturing series today provides an update on a locally-developed hybrid additive/subtractive machine for producing cutting tools.

ANCA’s long-running hybrid toolmaking machine project has taken another towards commercialisation with the announcement of a new $928,000, nine-month collaborative project focussed on additive manufacturing. 

The Innovative Manufacturing CRC announced on Wednesday that it is providing a grant support through its activate program for R&D, which is “now in the advanced phase”. 

The machine under development would replace current steps of mould pressing, sintering, brazing and grinding for tungsten-carbide brazed insert tools, instead printing a near-net shape tool to be finished within the same machine by grinding.

According to ANCA’s Research & Technology Manager Dean McBain, the project could potentially disrupt a cutting tool market worth $2.2 billion. 

“Successful completion of this project will allow ANCA to commercialise the new hybrid additive manufacturing machine platform, grow our workforce and revenue and fill a significant gap in the global tooling market,” said McBain.

“Once developed, this revolutionary technology can be applied to a range of cutting applications, creating significant global export opportunities and furthering ANCA’s position as a market-leading manufacturer of cutting tools and equipment,” added Dr Matthew Young, Manufacturing Innovation Manager at the IMCRC.

R&D on the platform goes back several years, with a six-month pilot project between CSIRO and ANCA and supported by the Victorian government’s Boost Your Business voucher scheme finishing in 2019. 

The following year the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre awarded a collaborative project between ANCA, CSIRO, Sutton Tools and Surface Coating Technologies a $390,000 grant.

Among other benefits, localised toolmaking would have implications for supply chain sovereignty, with China estimated to supply more than eight-tenths of all tungsten carbide, which features in the majority of the world’s cutting tools. 

According to Dr Kathie McGregor, Research Director for Advanced Materials and Processes at CSIRO, the completed project would make metal-based AM technologies more accessible to Australian companies.

“We expect the outcomes may enable ANCA to diversify and grow its business and provide a boost to the local economy in terms of additional job opportunities and export income,” said McGregor.

ANCA was established in 1974 and exports almost all of its CNC tool and cutter grinder machines. It employs over 1,000 globally, with its headquarters, high-value manufacturing and R&D based in Bayswater, Melbourne.

Picture: supplied

Frontiers In Additive Manufacturing is brought to you through the support of VSF Large Area 3D Printers by CNC Designs.

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