The University of South Australia’s Testlab has a particular focus on the defence sector, and is also highly relevant to the space, mining, electronics, ag-tech, and automotive industries.

It features three key capabilities:

Computer-aided design (CAD) and additive manufacturing

Design is one of the enabling skill sets of Industry 4.0 that is underpinning the digitisation of manufacturing. We have experienced CAD designers who have worked in industry and are experts in the translation of designs into the domain of additive manufacturing. This opens entirely new pathways to product innovation and development, with the ability to explore new product opportunities through fully realistic, functional prototypes.

A group of researchers working collaboratively

UniSA has established a state-of-the art 3D printing and design facility, equipped with a suite of 3D printers suited to industry opportunities.

These include:

Stratasys J735

The Stratasys J735 is a full-colour, Pantone-certified, UV-cured ink jet printer. This printer is able to print hard and soft materials in a single printing run, all in full colour, with a printing resolution down to 14 microns. For reference, a typical human hair has a diameter of around 100 microns. The printer has a build volume of 35 x 35 x 20 cm. This enables us to create vivid and realistic prototypes with the correct tactile sensations that could be taken to market for customer review and comment.

A man works with the Stratasys J735 printer

A woman works on the Fortus 450mc printer

Fortus 450mc

The Fortus 450mc printer is a filament deposition polymer printer. It can print a range of materials including ABS, ABA, Nylon 12, chopped carbon fibre in Nylon 12, Polycarbonate, ULTEM 1010 and Anterro (PEKK). The build size is 40 x 40 x 35 cm. The PEKK is an aerospace-certified material able to be used to build components for space-based satellites. Other materials such as the ULTEM are ultra-high strength, chemically resistant polymers. The Fortus 450mc printer is suited to a vast range of industrial applications, from manufacturing jigs and fixtures, to the fabrication of spare/replacement parts and even low volume manufacturing. It is even possible to print injection moulding tooling suitable for low-shot testing and product development.

DeskTop Metal Studio Printer

UniSA is the launch customer in Australia for the DeskTop Metal Studio Printer, which is the world’s first office-friendly metal 3D printer. This technology is a step-change from previous metal printers, and is based on bound metal deposition technology. The metal powder is bound within a heat softening wax and can therefore be easily and safety printed into the desired shape just like heat softening polymers can be. The printed component is a “green” part, which is then sintered in a furnace to produce the finished solid metal part.

The DeskTop Metal can print a range of materials including 17-4 stainless steel, H13 tool steel, 4140 steel, 316L stainless steel, with copper and Alloy 625 (Inconel) soon to be available. The build size is approximately 20 x 20 x 15 cm.

A woman uses the DeskTop Metal Studio Printer

Pilot scale manufacturing demonstration

The pilot scale manufacturing capability consists of an inline sputter coating system, and is a testbed for demonstrating elements of Industry 4.0, including automation, interoperability, the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, artificial intelligence, data analytics and virtual reality. The sputter coating system is able to coat 60 x 60 cm substrates (either polycarbonate or glass) with a range of thin film coatings that are specifically designed to impart properties such as infra-red reflectivity, anti-reflection, water repellency and anti-static properties.

Two people with a large machine

Virtual and augmented realities

Virtual Reality (VR) provides a powerful tool to enable human interaction with 3-dimensional objects.  This is done by the user wearing a special headset that enables them to interact with digital representation of an object or device. VR places the user inside the experience, where they are immersed into the digital 3D environment. It enables the user to experience the object or device as if in real life, instead of watching on a display. This can be particularly useful when developing new manufacturing processes, machines and layouts. A complete replica of a physical system in virtual reality is sometimes called a digital twin.

People using VR machines

Digital twin of thin film coating line

UniSA Video

Research overviews

Testlab overview

Download the PDF version (2.4Mb)

Australian Research Centre for Interactive  and Virtual Environments: IVE overview

Download the PDF version (1.9Mb)

ANFF-SA (The South Australian Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility) overview

Download the PDF version (3.1Mb)

All overviews combined

Download the PDF version (6.6Mb)