ANCA Australia is expanding its in-house manufacturing capabilities, developing a hybrid additive-subtractive manufacturing platform to manufacture Tungsten custom-designed cutting tools.

The platform is being developed alongside CSIRO and Sutton Tools, and is supported with matched funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC). Successful completion of the project will allow ANCA to commercialise the new hybrid additive-manufacturing machine platform while growing its workforce and revenue while fulfilling a gap in the global tooling market, to which it already supplies Airbus, Boeing, Renishaw and Fraisa.

The project builds on previous research & development (R&D) between ANCA and CSIRO through a six-month pilot program funded by the Victorian Government’s Boost Your Business voucher scheme. Together, ANCA and CSIRO have demonstrated that the tungsten-carbide tools could be made cheaper through improved production efficiencies compared to traditional tungsten products.

In 2015, ANCA began exploring the potential for additive manufacturing to disrupt the tungsten cutting tool market, worth an estimated $2.2bn globally. Following significant research and the development culminating in a report with CSIRO, both parties entered a six-month pilot program.

Dean McBain, ANCA’s Research and Technology Manager said: “Such a complex project and process wouldn’t be possible without the support of trusted partners such as CSIRO, Sutton Tools and AMGC. We rely on organisations like CSIRO who have the laboratory, equipment and knowledge that we do not have. Sutton Tools is also hugely important as they provide practical input from the end-user perspective. Collaborating with others is vital and it makes sense to partner with organisations like them.

“Similarly, AMGC is pretty much the only organisation that can provide funding assistance for a business of our size, apart from the much larger CRC-type projects, which need to run for two to three years. In terms of balancing what is applicable, AMGC works out perfectly for us.”

Jens Goennemann, Managing Director of AMGC, said ANCA’s successful pilot is a great example of collaboration and technology combining to solve a complex problem: “ANCA’s project is a perfect example of how collaboration can find solutions to complex issues. In this instance the collaboration of two leading Australian companies and the country’s preeminent research institution to deliver an innovative solution to a multi-billion dollar global market.

“Australia’s future prosperity lies in advanced manufacturing, in making complex things. It is the answer to many of the challenges that face us – be it energy, efficiency, resources, productivity and value. What ANCA, CSIRO and Sutton Tools have developed is a better value product that uses less raw material, is more durable and is manufactured here.”

CSIRO project leader Dayalan Gunasegaram added: “We’re looking forward to continuing to work with ANCA to refine and develop their additive manufacturing platform for new tungsten carbide tools, given the value that this could create for Australian manufacturing.”