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UniSA and industry partner to develop manufacturing equipment

In a new $2.4 million research partnership between the University of South Australia, a specialist surface engineering company, and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), experts are set to develop some of the world’s most resilient minerals processing equipment.

The engineering company a pioneering Australian surface engineering company and the University of South Australia’s specialist Coatings Research Group at the Future Industries Institute continue their fruitful collaboration on a new challenge.

Minerals processing machinery, often worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, endures some of the harshest possible conditions – erosion, corrosion and wear and tear induced by repetitive impact. A key competitive advantage for the industry and manufacturers would be to increase the longevity of mineral processing equipment through composite coatings (called cladding).

The improved cladding needs to match facility maintenance shutdown schedules. By matching the machinery life to service schedules, unforeseen shutdowns can be avoided or minimised. Shutdowns for repairs and maintenance of the equipment can cost more than $100,000 for every hour of downtime.

The Lead Researcher at UniSA stated that he welcomes the chance to grow the advanced manufacturing sector within Australia. This comes at a time when the local manufacturing capability must be nurtured and this project has the capacity to grow, employ and lead Australia through the challenging economic times, he said.

The key researcher on the project stated that industry experts in surface engineering have long recognised the challenge and have specialised in the development of hard, wear-resistant coatings using laser cladding. Through this partnership, it is hoped that UniSA can help the company to refine the technology, specifically focussing on key areas within mineral processing machinery prone to wear in different circumstances, to provide tailor-made coatings that resist that degradation.

UniSA’s extensive tribology laboratories can be used to perform accelerated wear testing in erosion, corrosion and impact abrasion, and they want to combine these results to predict wear rates in the real world and then inform material and process optimisation carried out by the company.

The CEO and Managing Director of IMCRC stated that the research collaboration builds on a long-standing and collaborative partnership between the company and the University of South Australia.

Together, wear and corrosion, continues to be a costly and disruptive challenge across many industries and developing advanced materials and technologies for wear and corrosion protection will help both Australian and global manufacturers combat these challenges.

The Future Industries Institute (FII) was established with a new research culture in mind – one deeply engaged with industry, with the end goal of building economic growth through relevant innovation and industry partnership.

The Institute reflects the University’s strategic ambition to be Australia’s University of Enterprise which engages fully with the professions and industry globally, whose research is informed, leading-edge and relevant. FII continues to forge national and international research partnerships in new industries and technologies that address real-world issues. Their goal is to support a creative and engaged culture and to help develop a sustainable ecosystem in which innovation, complex, growth-focused industries thrive.

FII’s research supports state and national research priorities and comprises top research teams able to collaborate across disciplines and to work with industry partners to deliver innovative solutions.

With a vibrant research environment, a strong industry orientation, and active international and national links, both academic and industry-based, the Institute is among the very best in Australia and attracts and retains leading researchers.

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