Manufacturing news briefs – stories you might have missed

Third NASA rocket launches from Arnhem Land

Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA), operator of the Arnhem Space Centre (ASC) in the Northern Territory has completed its third and final rocket launch with NASA. The NASA DEUCE mission will help astronomers measure an unstudied part of Centauri A and B’s ultraviolet light spectrum, helping them model stars and understand their effects on planetary atmospheres. Group CEO of ELA Michael Jones said the successful launch was a great finale to the NASA campaign that began on June 26. “We are really proud to have achieved a very rare feat – three successful launches in just 15 days. Even more so given the challenging wind conditions.”

Electro Optic Systems announces CEO Ben Greene’s resignation

Defence, space and communicators manufacturer Electro Optic Systems has announced the resignation of its long-time CEO and founder Dr Ben Greene. In an announcement EOS said it was well advanced in the appointment of a successor, with Dr Greene’s resignation taking effect on that appointment. EOS Chair Peter Leahy praised Greene’s ‘committed service and leadership’ over several decades. “Dr Greene’s technological and engineering capabilities can only be described as world leading and visionary, with his initial designs of remote weapons stations and space situational awareness capabilities setting a global standard in the defence and space technology sectors.” The announcement gave no reason for Dr Greene’s departure, who will stay on in a role of Head of Innovation. The company has faced supply chain difficulties through the Covid-19 pandemic, and has been expanding rapidly, putting a high demand on capital.

Immuron’s travel sickness products sales surge

Pharmaceutical manufacturer Immuron has announced surging sales for its two lead products to treat gut disorders, led by its Travelan product against common travel sickness, Travelan. In North America sales of Travelan were up by 494 percent to $600,000 in FY22, while global sales of Travelan and Protectyyn rose 431 percent to $900,000 globvally. US sales have come from sales in Passport Health Travel Clinics and the Amazon e-commerce channel. Travelan prophylactically reduces the likelihood of contracting travellers diarrhoea.


Following the recent appointment of CFO Jasmin Lakhani, power electronics and RV systems company BMPRO has added Alex Bugeja as Chief Operations Officer. Formerly of organisations including Reece Group and Jayco Recreational Vehicles Australia,  Bugeja will lead and scale supply chain and production, R&D, engineering services, quality, and executive service teams, said BMPRO. “I look forward to working with and representing another great Australian organisation, contributing to its ongoing growth and success.” said Bugeja.

Australia joins global minerals security partnership

Australia has joined an international partnership seeking to develop and secure global supply chains for critical minerals. Federal trade minister Don Farrell and resources minister Madeleine King announced Australia had joined the Minerals Security Partnership, along with the United States, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Commission. “The partnership seeks to catalyse public and private investment for mining, processing and recycling projects that adhere to the highest environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, said Farrell.

Epichem announces recycling pilot with Shell Australia

WA-based chemistry business Epichem has secured a recycling pilot with Shell Australia, brokered through National Energy Resources Australia’s GeneratER program — delivered in partnership with the WA government — which is dedicated to identifying opportunities to connect specialist SMEs to larger industry operators. The Epichem pilot will assist Shell in improving plastic recycling across its operations in WA, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Epichem’s solution turns waste into recyclable products using “a process that liquefies plastic, changing its chemical structure to make it biodegradable or able to be repurposed into another end-product.” Completion of the pilot is anticipated for early October 2022.

Swinburne prototyping program launched

Swinburne University’s Aerostructures Innovation Research (AIR) Hub is launching AIR Pass, which it says addresses a critical gap in prototype funding in Australia, especially for the capital-intensive aerospace industry. AIR Pass will give startups and SMEs up to $150,000 of prototype support and up to $50,000 of “focus-on-mission” funding to prototype and prove their solution to their customers, helping them to launch into the international aerospace market. AIR Hub Director Dr Adriano Di Pietro said, “We’re looking for startups and SMEs who can be the world’s best at the thing that they do; think efficient electric motors or low power radar tech.”

Submissions sought for Victorian bioenergy program

The Victorian government launched a $10 million Waste to Energy Fund: Bioenergy fund this month, seeking to build capacity for creating energy — in the form of electricity, heat, gas or liquid fuels — from organic waste. Grants are available through two streams: between $20,000 and $250,000 for projects to scope, test and gain approvals to achieve the pre-financial close phases of a bioenergy project, and between $50,000 and $1 million for projects with a proven business case to purchase, construct, and commission infrastructure to convert organic matter into bioenergy. Information sessions are being held this week for the program, with grant applications closing August 26 at 11:59 pm (AEST.) More information can be seen here.

UNSW team develops shape-shifting smart textiles

A team from UNSW Sydney’s Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, and Tyree Foundation Institute of Health Engineering, led by Dr Thanh Nho Do, have produced a material made of tiny, soft, artificial ‘muscles’ – long silicon tubes filled with fluid which are manipulated to move via hydraulics. Their research in latest findings in Scientific Reports and Soft Robotics showed that the new smart textile could have a wide range of applications in many different fields, with artificial muscles — surrounded by a helical coil of traditional fibres — able to be programmed to contract or expand into a variety of shapes depending on its initial structure. “We envision our material could be used to develop soft exoskeletons to enable people with disabilities to walk again or augment the human performance,” said Do of one possible application.

Markforged to buy Digital Metal from Höganäs

US additive manufacturing company Markforged has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Digital Metal, a subsidiary of Höganäs AB,  which it describes as “a leading binder jetting solution known to be precise and reliable”. In a statement on Tuesday, US time, Markforged said that powder binder jetting is a highly scalable AM technology for production-grade parts, and that Digital Metal’s solution complemented the company’s current Digital Forge offering, growing the overall addressable market by solving new customer problems. The deal involves approximately $US 32 million in cash, approximately 4.1 million shares of Markforged common stock and approximately $US 1.5 million in cash to settle certain intercompany balances, subject to certain adjustments. Digital Metal was founded in 2003.

Picture: Getty Images

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