ProtoSpace: scratching the surface of 3D printing
UTS ProtoSpace is driving innovation by supporting ideas with the most advanced suite of 3D printers in Australia. ProtoSpace collaborates with business of all sizes and sectors, with a focus on SMEs and start-ups.
ProtoSpace is Australia’s most advanced 3D printing ( or additive manufacturing – terms are interchangeable) facility, supporting education, exploration and innovation. This unique precinct under Alumni Green is now open for collaboration with academe and industry, to businesses of all size, from all sectors, to help unlock the next generation of Australian manufacturing opportunities.
Featuring a suite of high-tech 3D printers unique in Australia, ProtoSpace represents UTS' commitment to assist digital transformation (Industry 4.0) by providing access to cutting-edge equipment and expertise in 3D printing technology, software, engineering and design. While managed by the Faculty of Engineering and IT, the facility is multidisciplinary and a nexus of design, materials and production.
Hervé Harvard, Director of ProtoSpace and Rapido, says this reflects our position as a young and progressive university making a significant investment in technology, ideation, research, teaching and learning that can benefit society.
3D printers are becoming ubiquitous, with low end models even for sale at office suppliers and supermarkets. We are a high-end facility, offering a combination of the most contemporary technical equipment and specialist knowledge in printing technologies.
ProtoSpace not only provides physical access to state of the art equipment and technology, we can assemble multi-skilled teams from across the university with expertise in 3D printing technologies, research and development, software, design and engineering.
An early visitor to ProtoSpace was Terry Wohlers, an international expert in 3D printing whose annual report is the industry-leading ‘bible’. Impressed by the fit out and what he observes to be amongst the best facilities he has seen, he said ProtoSpace is a great opportunity to help people and organisations embrace the technology which, in 2017, was still only .06% of a global manufacuting market worth $7.346 billion.
ProtoSpace can help them go from the hype to the reality of this technology and think about doing things differently. They can try it out, take it to the next level and transition from prototyping with small parts at low volume to a production model.
3D printing is already demonstrating clear benefits for
- new product development – proof-of-concept and rapid prototyping
- time to market - rapid design and production of complex products
- reduced waste - using least amount to get the job done
- new product opportunities – adopting new materials, design and production.
It supports business models such as customer-led design processes and just-in-time production for both functional prototypes and direct part production. With huge growth potential, ProtoSpace and Harvard are reaching out to Australian innovators - especially SMEs and start-ups - to collaborate with UTS.
What is different about ProtoSpace is that we want to explore with them how 3D printing can add value to established and emerging businesses; this is the fastest growing manufacturing sector globally but we have just begun to scratch the surface of what it can do. This technology enables new capability such as manufacturing highly complex parts and the ability to engage through co-creation and mass-customisation.
Imagine. Invent. Innovate.
Following commission and installation, Faculty of Engineering and IT projects underway during the pilot phase include industry partners, UTS researchers and students:
- mining company Mineral Technologies is examining the use of composite polymer for equipment manufacture, printing a two metre high gravity spiral, and working with the Rapido team to develop a printer for on-site equipment parts at its remote locations in Australia and overseas
- supporting research for a scoping study for Australian Wool Innovation of robotic sheep shearing using Shauna, a full size 3D printed merino sheep
- developing the next generation of 3D print specialists. This includes the work of mechatronic engineering student Kate Leone working with local start-up Ability Made to create customised ankle-foot orthoses for children with cerebral palsy. Kate’s work is reducing the production time from 52 weeks to just 48 hours.