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Invigorating Australian industry through additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing involves adding molten metal in a layer-by-layer process to make 3D objects directly from CAD files, as opposed to using subtractive methods like traditional CNC machining.

The Challenges

Operational costs for molten metal additive manufacturing are high because of labour and depreciation of the equipment and also expensive powder costs. The powder cost is high because generally spherical, narrow size distribution is required. If the equipment cost comes down and labour gets more productive, powder becomes the mostly costly component of AM. The other major challenge is to de-risk Industry Adoption and Growth of business.

Our Response

CSIRO has established a group of researchers and operators working on molten metal additive manufacturing.

CSIRO has an open house policy to Industry and for R&D. We offer:

  • Access our capital equipment
  • Access our trained operators
  • Access us for assistance on Developing Business Cases and Positive ROI’s
  • Access us for assistance on design (or re-designing) to take advantage of 3DP Design Freedoms
  • Access us for assistance on material science solutions
  • Learn first-hand

The first process is the Arcam additive manufacturing facility, the first in the southern hemisphere, to provide industry with access to advanced electron beam melting technologies for three-dimensional (3D) printing of metals. The resulting quality is high, as the process is conducted in a vacuum and held at high temperatures during the entire build. The Arcam electron beam melting technology can be used with metals including titanium, titanium alloys and specialty steel alloys, such as nickel and cobalt chrome.

We are also establishing laser-based melting technologies.

CSIRO response to the costs of additive manufacturing is undertaking research projects and trade studies, with the aim of increasing speed, performance and affordability, by using:

  • powder manipulation, to develop low-cost powder input stock
  • an external powder bed, to analyse and optimize alternative powders

CSIRO has undertaken a number of industry specific case studies already

  • unitisation trade studies, to combine several production components into fewer or one
  • short production run and complex shape trade studies
  • alternative to traditional tooling trade studies