September 24, 2023

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Boosting Australia’s Additive Manufacturing Capabilities

Image Credits: ANSTO, Press Release

ANSTO’s recently installed a first-in-the-world custom-built powder Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) system that can be used for in-situ experiments (in-situ experiments refers to the capacity to take measurements while technology is operating) at the Australia Centre for Neutron Scattering. The move is expected to greatly strengthen ANSTO’s capabilities to support additive manufacturing.

The project was co-funded by a Research Attraction and Acceleration grant from the Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer (NSW), the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and ANSTO.

After eighteen months of design work and manufacturing, the system has been commissioned on the Kowari strain scanner.

LMD is an additive manufacturing process wherein a laser beam is used to create a melt pool on the surface of a metal object. Metal powder is injected using a gas stream that also melts, forming a thin “additive” layer of new material on top of the base material.

This system can be used to produce 3D parts or repair existing components, such as high-strength steel aircraft or civil structure components, with a bond that is as strong as, or in some cases stronger, than the original.

The ANSTO team anticipates that this unique LMD capability will significantly aid researchers and companies in Australia to understand and optimise advanced manufacturing techniques and enhance sovereign manufacturing in Australia.

The new LMD system enables researchers to undertake neutron measurements during powder-fed laser additive manufacturing and is expected to provide real-time information about the deposition process to enable further optimisation.

While a few refinements remain necessary to enable the ease of operation and potential use of the other neutron instruments, Prof Anna Paradowska, Industry Engagement Manager Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering and Conjoint Professor at The University of Sydney, said the development of the sample environment system is a considerable technical achievement that was designed and constructed by ANSTO.

“We have a great technical and design team that pushed the boundaries of what could be achieved for this important area of research. For the first time, we can characterise and manufacture in-house,” said Prof Paradowska.

This new sample environment capability greatly enhances to measure of the evolution of stresses in a 3D printed material and will help optimise solidification while also minimising defects, which is crucial in advanced manufacturing, the Sample Environment Professional Officer.

The first experiment on Kowari has been completed and the team is “extremely pleased with the initial results”.

National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS)

The Australian Government helps maintain its reputation as an established global leader in world-class research by ensuring researchers have access to cutting-edge national research infrastructure supported through the NCRIS program.

Currently, the NCRIS supports 22 funded projects, plus pilot projects and international membership. The projects are led by organisations including universities, publicly funded research organisations and private companies.

The projects make up a network consisting of over 200 delivery partnerships, and employing more than 1900 highly skilled technical experts, researchers and facility managers. Users that rely on NCRIS range from early career researchers and small businesses who would otherwise struggle to access world-class NRI, to global research leaders tapping into the unique facilities that NCRIS provides.

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