Based in Tullamarine, Victoria, Amiga Engineering has expanded its capabilities into the emerging market of 3D metal printing, becoming the only privately owned and operated metal 3D printing service bureau in Australia.

Australia’s manufacturing industry is on the rise again after a tough period in which many businesses ceased operating or moved offshore. Traditionally a competitive and innovative industry, Australian manufacturing is embracing additive manufacturing techniques as a way to increase competitive advantage in the face of cheaper overseas competitors. Manufacturers are reimagining the industry with the help of this emerging technology.

Additive manufacturing technology and 3D printing have been prominent for some time, letting manufacturers make custom products quickly and to a high standard. This ability to custom-make products onshore and deliver them to customers faster can help local manufacturers compete with offshore companies that must ship products to Australia, which takes time, as well as with those manufacturers clinging to traditional methods, which are costly and just as time consuming.

Since 3D printing doesn’t require expensive moulds and complex equipment setups, it lets manufacturers be more agile in responding to customer demands. Short-run and customised products are now not just economically viable but a potential source of significant revenue.

When general engineering firm Amiga Engineering decided to take the plunge into 3D printing, it chose a ProX 320 DMP metal printer from 3D Systems/Konica Minolta. The choice of metal as the material was in keeping with Amiga’s 30-year history of machining pipe flanges, fittings, and other special components for the oil and gas, mining, petrochemical, marine, medicine, and defence industries.

Amiga evaluated potential 3D metal printers from 2011 onwards, and was unable to find a printer that fit its requirements until meeting with Konica Minolta. Konica Minolta’s support services were instrumental in Amiga’s choice of technology, since the business needed to be confident it would be able to deliver on customer expectations without the machine breaking down. Furthermore, Konica Minolta helped Amiga navigate the implementation process.

The new 3D printer lets Amiga use free geometry to create items that are functional to the upper limits of design rather than being hamstrung by the technology it can be machined on. It’s a heavy-duty alternative to traditional metal manufacturing processes and offers reduced waste, faster speeds, shorter set-up times, and very dense and pure metal parts with leading surface quality.

This satisfied Amiga’s requirement to produce finer-detailed parts, and parts that can consolidate or eliminate multiple components to help reduce assembly times and the associated costs. Amiga was also looking to reduce the weight of parts by using only the material needed to produce the component. The printer can swap materials fast through its cart system, which lets manufacturers use a single machine rather than multiple machines.

Pioneering in this space means Amiga can help set the benchmark for what’s possible for Australian designers and manufacturers. Starting with applications such as medical-grade titanium for facial reconstruction and bone structures, Amiga aims to advance into other sectors. Using 3D metal printing to create niche parts means Amiga can provide these parts cheaper, helping organisations in other industries compete more successfully.

From medical and dental applications to aerospace and motorsports, the possibilities offered by the Konica Minolta-supplied printer are enormous. It is equally effective using titanium, stainless steel, cobalt chrome, maraging steel, aluminium, Inconel, and more.

Amiga is using 3D metal printing to provide a one-stop offering for customers by combining traditional and additive manufacturing technologies, delivering a wider range of more innovative, advanced, high-value parts for customers. As customers require more complex, customised, products delivered faster and more reliably, the industry is likely to see more players adopting 3D metal printing.

After the successful installation of the first ProX 320 DMP, Amiga now has a second machine in place. It also has a SLM 280HL machine. The company is currently working with titanium, 316SS, Inconel718 and aluminium and cobalt chrome, and is looking at future materials around high-tensile carbon steels for mould design, and duplex stainless steel for special instrumentation and wearing corrosive parts.

In conjunction with Konica Minolta, Amiga held an exclusive additive manufacturing event for Australia’s education and government sector in August to showcase its new metal additive manufacturing service bureau. The event provided individuals at the forefront of the Australian additive manufacturing sector an exclusive inside-look at Amiga’s facilities as well as a chance to review the ProX DMP 320. Konica Minolta also provided an update on new and upcoming additive manufacturing solutions from 3D Systems, and an overview of Konica Minolta’s initiatives, both globally and closer to home.