Adelaide will rock to new metal facility

The best 3D printing facility of its kind in the southern hemisphere is headed to Adelaide. David Chuter spoke to Tory Shepherd, Adelaide Advertiser, about this manufacturing investment.

Local companies will be able to access the metal printing facility for defence parts as well as medical devices.

The State Government has announced $1.4 million for the Northern Adelaide facility, which will house three printers.

Local companies increasingly have the ability to 3D print parts, but buying a printer is prohibitively expensive. This shared facility will solve that problem.

David Chuter, the managing director and chief executive officer of the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre, told The Advertiser the “critical mass” of advanced manufacturing will be in the defence and medical industries.

“The words ‘manufacturing’ and ‘investment’ have struggled to go together in Adelaide,” he said.

“But this is an investment in new technologies, in advanced manufacturing technologies … it could see the industry engaged in making prototypes, in research.”

Mr Chuter said particularly in defence the facility would allow people to make things differently, make new products, create new business models and “potentially a new industry”.

Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said transforming the state economy depended on our ability to “adapt to new ways of doing things and establish advanced technologies to build globally competitive, high-value firms”.

“We value innovation, and we know it drives economic growth and job creation, so this investment is key to creating the jobs of today and the jobs of the future,” he said.

Until now, some people have been able to access the University of Adelaide’s smaller facility, but have had to go overseas for bigger jobs.

University Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Julie Owens said this would allow advanced manufacturing projects to happen in Adelaide

“The new facility will enable many advanced manufacturing projects in defence, medical devices, dental prostheses and injection moulding to be undertaken in Adelaide,” she said.

“This will significantly enhance local advanced manufacturing and we are proud to have been centrally involved in the creation of such an important new facility for SA.”

Metal 3D printing is also known as metal additive manufacturing. The process means complicated parts can be made at a high quality.

CSIRO Deputy Director of Manufacturing Cathy Foley said access to the facility would create jobs.

“Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, creates enormous opportunities for innovative products to be developed, creating new business models and jobs growth in Australia,” she said.

“In addition to improving lives with next generation medical implants, the success of CSIRO’s Lab 22 (an existing 3D metal printing) has shown that making metal additive manufacturing more accessible for industry provides them with the tools to differentiate themselves, grow and get ahead of global competitors.”