The problem

With the AUKUS Alliance delivering US Virginia Class and SSN-AUKUS Class submarines over the 2030s and 2040s, the need to extend the life of Australia’s Collins-class is becoming increasingly critical. The fleet has already weathered a long battle against waves, rocks, and salt. So, how can we prolong the life of our current maritime platforms?

The solution

Researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA) have created laser cladding technology that mitigates vessel corrosion and will deliver Life of Type Extension (LOTE) to Australia’s maritime industry.

“Our researchers work to enhance the performance of materials in extreme environments – allowing metal, glass and plastics to withstand damage for longer periods of time,” UniSA Professor Colin Hall says.

“Our researchers have found that tailored metal composite coatings for wear resistance can triple the service life of a part.

“We perform accelerated testing in erosion, corrosion and impact abrasion and combine these test results to predict wear rates in the real-world.

“This allows us to inform material and process optimisation for defence primes and the Australian Defence Force, and we can create tailor-made coatings that are deposited faster, and better resist degradation.”

Researchers like Professor Hall work within UniSA’s Future Industries Institute – which houses world-class facilities and technology.

The institute has hi-tech manufacturing equipment, precision machining capabilities, the Australian National Fabrication Facility, and the Industry 4.0 Testlab for 3D printing and Thin Film Coating capabilities.

“Our facilities and equipment allow our researchers to enhance the resistance and longevity of materials used by industry, and to enhance the protection of those materials,” Dr Hall says.

“We work closely with multiple industry partners to develop and test materials for commercialisation.

“We have delivered a sovereign capability in optical component fabrication, thanks to our expertise and facilities around precision machining and optical coating, and this has been used to deliver products like telescope mirrors.”

UniSA supports defence industry capability and innovation through collaborative research projects with government and businesses across the sector. Enhance your own defence capabilities by connecting with the UniSA Enterprise Hub.

UniSA is currently working to develop a new surface manufacturing cooperative research centre focussed on repair and remanufacture via surface and additive manufacturing. The Surface Manufacturing CRC (SMCRC) will work with industry and research providers to develop new and enhanced surfaces to meet Australia’s demanding operating environments.

Project outcomes

Delivery of Life of Type Extension (LOTE) for maritime platforms

Precision machining capabilities for enhanced platform protection

Testing methods for accurate prediction of wear rates in the real-world

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