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alt ISCA introduce first additive manufactured production mould to change Australian manufacturing landscape

Australia has traditionally had a fiscal ecosystem that relies on taking diminishing resources out of the ground, and excludes new ideas and industries that are changing the world. Recently the government had a huge opportunity to show the tech industry, and the public at large, that it gets the way the world is changing where it tagged five sectors as areas worthy of research grants under the latest stream of the Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Program – one of which being advanced manufacturing.

Because of this we are seeing the birth of a vibrant and sustainable additive manufacturing ecosystem in Australia, with new companies and ideas with huge potential to create value not just at home, but also derive it from overseas markets. This ecosystem has the potential to change the struggling manufacturing landscape within Australia which is currently seeing an exponential decline.

One such application of this technology is the use of additive manufacturing to fabricate tooling. This can not only reduce lead times and costs, but also improve functionality and enhance the ability to customize. Recently ISCA received a tool from China that had damaged inserts. The cost of manufacturing the inserts through traditional means significantly outweighed that of laser-based additive manufacturing in hardened steel. As such, inserts were additive manufactured out of steel and attached to the mould base. The result was final parts that were near-identical to the original and a tool that performs just as well. This proves that such technology huge potential to rapidly change our industry.

The global tooling industry is the single largest industry that caters to all of the industrial sectors. As such, the productivity and current form of these sectors is purely dependent on that if the global tooling industry. There are multiple potential benefits of using additive manufactured tooling that in turn, will be passed onto all global industrial sectors:

  1. Lead time reduction is the major benefit of additive manufacturing. Manufacturing can be reduced from 6-12 week to 24 hours.

  2. Cost is significantly reduced due to the significantly reduced man hours;

  3. Improved functionality as overall manufacturing speed, accuracy and efficiency have been constrained by tooling limitations;

  4. Increased ability to customize as designing superior tools are possible as inherent manufacturing limitations are overcome.

Conventional manufacturing efficiency has reached a point where innovations have reached their peach in many aspects. When coupled with factors like design mistakes that require the mould to be remade correctly or the need for multiple iterations before part efficiency is achieved, a platform is provided for additive manufacturing to provide an alternative for tool production.

If the Australian manufacturing industry are to take advantage of the wave of global disruption that is coming to every technology sector in all developed economies, we need to have open and smart processes and support for innovation, such as additive manufacturing. Despite the challenges, we have witnessed the birth of the additive manufacturing industry within Australia which has the potential to revolutionise the diminishing tooling industry within Australia, but also overseas.