GoProto announces acquisition of 3D Systems On-Demand facility

GoProto has expanded its Industry 4.0 presence with the acquisition of 3D Systems’ Australian facility in Melbourne, while also increasing additive manufacturing capacity at its North American facility.

After receiving the highest ever ranking for an additive manufacturer on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies, GoProto has capitalised on this momentum by expanding even further into the digital manufacturing landscape. The acquisition of 3D Systems’ Australian facility, the largest digital manufacturing service bureau in the region, coupled with the earlier acquisition of WYSIWYG 3D, sees GoProto become the largest digital manufacturer in the Australian market.

Further emphasising its global reach, GoProto’s North American facility in San Diego, California, has also installed two new HP 5210 Multi Jet Fusion printers. Adding these two high-productivity 3D printers to its existing six 4200 MJF printers increases GoProto’s production capacity at that location by approximately 50%.

As of 1 December, GoProto acquired 3D Systems’ Australian on-demand manufacturing facility, the largest 3D digital manufacturer in the APAC region. Located in Melbourne and commissioned just two years ago, the state-of-the-art facility houses a full range of 3D Systems production-ready 3D printers and a highly experienced management and operations team. This pivotal acquisition will accelerate GoProto’s strategy to become the largest Industry 4.0 player in the Australian market.

“This acquisition is a significant leap forward in our growth plans for the region, with an experienced management team that pioneered the introduction of 3D printing into APAC,” says Simon Marriott, Director at GoProto (ANZ) Pty Ltd. “The benefits to our manufacturing customers will be significant as they transition to Industry 4.0 and seek to build agile supply chains that are resilient to global influences.”

Earlier in November, GoProto also acquired WYSIWYG 3D, creating a unified laser scanning and 3D entity focused on expansion in the digital manufacturing space. WYSIWYG 3D has been providing 3D scanning services since 2003 and will continue to provide the same quality laser scanning, photogrammetry and 3D CAD modelling service under the GoProto banner in Sydney.

Commenting on the development, Shane Rolton, Managing Director at WYSIWYG 3D, said: “We’ve already been working on a number of projects with GoProto. Combining our expertise and resources shortens the time lag between scan data and production, putting ourselves exactly where our customers need us.”

By adding this expertise to GoProto’s already expansive service portfolio, the acquisitions enable a streamlined solution for every stage of the product development lifecycle, open up new opportunities for the companies’ combined customer base, and create a firm foundation for further expansion as an Industry 4.0 leader.

With the installation of two new HP 5210 Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers at the San Diego manufacturing facility, GoProto increases the MJF install base at this location from six HP 4200 MJF printers to a total of eight, and increases production capacity at this site by approximately 50%. With this, GoProto has also upped its build units from 30 to 34, ensuring 24/7 production capability on all eight MultiJet 3D printers.

Jesse Lea, President and CEO at GoProto, said: “The current global supply chain structure has shifted during the pandemic. Companies are looking to minimise their risk in procuring production parts. With our business model focusing on Industry 4.0 principles, expansion of capacities for domestic rapid manufacturing with the latest technologies and materials and the complete end-to-end service model, GoProto is ideally situated to help our customers with assurance of supply.”

Additive manufacturing lights the way forward for Burn Brite

When Ampcontrol Burn Brite set about developing a polymer moulding component for a new safety lighting product for underground coal mines, it decided to explore the potential of 3D printing, with support from AMTIL’s Additive Manufacturing Hub (AM Hub).

Ampcontrol Burn Brite Pty Ltd (Burn Brite) is a member company of Ampcontrol Pty Ltd. Based in Ringwood in Melbourne’s east, Burn Brite is a designer and integrated manufacturer of lighting and power supply systems. It supplies to the underground coal, tunneling and infrastructure markets throughout Australia and South-East Asia. Employing 40 people, Burn Brite has been in operation for 63 years.

Burn Brite’s operation is a classic manufacturing operation. From raw materials such as polymers, metal sheeting and electronic components, Burn Brite processes, fabricates and assembles to detailed in-house designs that require strict Group 1 and 2 certification compliance. Most of these products are safety-critical in their application.

Burn Brite is essentially an independent operation, providing sales, R&D and manufacturing functions. As Burn Brite’s products have been designed in-house, the role of R&D is critical to the ongoing success of the business.

The challenge

Burn Bite planned to design and develop new integrated safety lighting for underground coal mines. Its new flagship luminaire product would be called the ISLEDi. This would be an extensive change to its existing ISLED product with new leading-edge electronics embedded. These product developments are detailed and onerous, including arduous laboratory testing of properties, material compatibility and safety mechanisms.

The body of the luminaire was to be made from a polymer moulding requiring detailed design, prototypes and intricate detail in injection moulding tooling. The estimated timeline for project completion was significant, and the risk of future realised injection moulding issues arising was high.

The solution

In discussion with industry contacts, it was recommended that additive manufacturing (AM) could assist for fast prototype development, enable fast iterative design, and therefore lower decision risk in injection mould tooling investment. Burn Brite sought additive manfuacturing support from the Additive Manufacturing Hub (AM Hub) via the Build It Better (BIB) voucher program and was very appreciative to be accepted.

Burn Brite engaged a registered service provider, Cobalt Design, to assist in CAD aspects related to additive manfuacturing and to engage with additive manfuacturing companies best suited to the form and close material property correlation requirements of Burn Brite’s prototype design.

How the Additive Manufacturing Hub helped

Burn Brite knew of additive manfuacturing through media and exhibitions, but had no direct knowledge or experience of it in terms of design considerations, compatible polymers and so on. With funding assistance from the BIB program, engagement and detailed discussions with Cobalt were undertaken. This led to Burn Brite modifying certain aspects of its designs and issuing designs closely suited to additive processes.

Without the opportunity of the BIB program, Burn Brite would not have pursued an additive manfuacturing path. The BIB program enabled engagement with Cobalt, design suitability for AM, fast processing of prototype parts and samples, and shortened lead times to critical decisions about product tooling.

The outcome

Cobalt’s creative design and form iterations were completed within weeks. The creation of fast prototypes then occurred within days. Burn Brite would historically take several months to iterate design between mould flow simulation to rapid prototypes and so on. The additive manfuacturing path has saved many weeks of iteration to get to a high confidence level on final body form and tooling design.

All mechanical aspects of Burn Brite’s new ISLEDi are now complete. Critical decisions regarding tooling and investment were made through a series of trials and formal reviews, subsequent to the receipt of samples.

The target market for this product is the underground coal longwall mining sector. Discussions regarding the flexibility and increased visual awareness and status of mine condition that this product will enable have been very positive to date.

The product design and final assembly are currently undergoing certification review. Burn Brite is confident that the product design in its current form will be successful in this certification. The product is on track for a market release in July 2020.

Burn Brite will now implement an additive manfuacturing step in its design process going forward. The benefits have clearly been a reduced time to investment decisions, and therefore to final product realisation. Burn Brite remains watchful of the economic improvements in additive manfuacturing and looks forward to the time when it will invest in additive manfuacturing machinery and make the transition from injection moulding.

The AM Hub is an initiative delivered by AMTIL in partnership with the Victorian State Government to provide an industry-driven collaborative network of technology users, suppliers and supporters that will promote the adoption of additive manufacturing technology. For more information, please contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666 or email

SHOC: 3D printing the perfect fit for visor upgrade

Sports equipment manufacturer SHOC was encountering problems with one of its key products: a visor for American football helmets. Working with AMTIL’s Additive Manufacturing Hub (AM Hub), it found a solution in 3D printing.

SHOC is an Australian-owned and operated business that provides sports industry after-market polycarbonate helmet visors for American football and lacrosse. The company has been providing its products for just over five years.

The challenge

SHOC’s 2.0 Lightning Visor football-helmet visor was suffering some fitting issues, which were causing premature cracking of the visor. The reason for this was that the 2.0 Lightning product was designed as a one-size-fits-all visor. While it fitted most helmets okay, on one helmet, the Riddell Speedflex, it had to be bent to fit the mask. This was a major issue because the Speedflex is the most popular helmet in the sport currently, meaning failure issues for the visor were exacerbated. SHOC pulled the 2.0 Lightning visor after several issues arose and the company did not want to risk any further problems for its end customers.

The solution

SHOC engaged the team at product design and development specialists ONEPOINTSIX in late 2018 to begin the redesign of its 2.0 Lightning football-helmet visor. The Zero G project consisted of two parts.

The first part: to redesign the 2.0 Lightning visor that would fit the Speedflex perfectly with zero bending of the polycarbonate. The redesigned visor would basically retain the same styling of the 2.0 Lightning visor, but to perform a shape upgrade so that it would fit the more pinched style of the Speedflex helmet’s mask.

The project would employ 3D printing processes to facilitate the printing of the updated design, and test fitting. When the 3D-printed part did not fit on the mask properly, SHOC and ONEPOINTSIX made small design shape changes and reprinted the part. This enabled the team to quickly bring the part in for a perfect fit.

The team also utilised the 3D printed part to present the new design to its customers and invite feedback. The importance of this part of the process became clear at one point when it emerged that SHOC had omitted to lower the top of the visor so that it did not cover the mask label. This would have been a significant issue with some of the professional teams, who must show the label on their helmets.

The second part of the project was to design a new quick-fitting visor clip. The newly designed VIPER clips would be utilised not just on the new SHOC Zero G visor but on all other visors offered by SHOC, as well as other competitor visor brands. ONEPOINTSIX was contracted to perform the design work for the clips and utilise 3D printing to facilitate testing of the parts and ensure a perfect fit on the Speedflex helmet, as provided.

SHOC provided the design and 3D-printed sample to its US factory, who indicated that the custom shape that had initially been chosen would prove extremely difficult to mould, and suggested instead utilising a toroid shape as the base shape of the visor. The team went back to the CAD software with this advice, with ONEPOINTSIX working directly with the factory and their mould maker to make the changes to the CAD design. The shape was quickly updated and another sample was printed; further tweaks to the shape were required and additional samples were printed.

ONEPOINTSIX supplied SHOC’s factory with the CAD drawings, and 3D-printed samples were made at the factory of both the clips and the visor. Samples were received and checked by ONEPOINTSIX, and mould manufacturing began.

At present SHOC has finalised the clips and they are in production. The mould for the visor initially failed optical testing but SHOC is close to resolving this. The visor part has been supplied, SHOC has test-fitted it onto the helmet and all masks, and it is a perfect fit. Finally the mould has been repolished for optical clarity and the design finalised in late February.

One lesson learned in hindsight was that SHOC would have benefitted from going to end customers with design proposals and receiving feedback on various 3D-printed shapes. This would have provided direct feedback in regard to customer experience.

The outcome

SHOC has completed the design and testing of its new product for the American football helmet market utilising the services of ONEPOINTSIX. It has received factory final samples of all parts and is currently awaiting final mould tweaks to begin production imminently.

The use of 3D printing was instrumental in getting an exact fit of the visor to the helmet. If it was not for 3D printing, the project would inevitably have entailed large amounts of guesswork, which would have been massively time-consuming. Additive manufacturing allowed SHOC to make exact changes, and enabled quick turnarounds on testing and verification.

The AM Hub is an initiative delivered by AMTIL in partnership with the Victorian State Government to provide an industry-driven collaborative network of technology users, suppliers and supporters that will promote the adoption of additive manufacturing technology. For more information, please contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666 or email

AM Hub, TBGA team up on training

AMTIL’s Additive Manufacturing Hub (AM Hub) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The Barnes Global Advisors (TBGA) engineering consultancy to deliver training solutions for Australia’s additive manufacturing community.

Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, TBGA is the world’s largest independent additive manufacturing engineering consultancy. It helps companies work through the adoption of additive manufacturing processes, covering strategy, design, leadership, training, materials and economics. TBGA’s CEO and founder John Barnes previously worked with CSIRO, where he helped establish the Lab22 Innovation Centre, one of Australia’s leading centres for metallic additive manufacturing. TBGA’s team of specialists collectively boasts well over 130 years of experience in additive manufacturing.

The company already has a well-established presence in the UK and Europe as well as across the US. With its new partnership with the AMHub, TBGA’s additive manufacturing training is now available on five continents. Initially TBGA will be offering the Additive Manufacturing Certificate for Engineers, Managers and Executives, delivered in collaboration with Purdue University’s Online College of Engineering. The Additive Manufacturing Certificate Program is ideal for professionals with a manufacturing background and is designed to bring you from novice to broad awareness. As an online course, training can be undertaken at your pace and in line with your schedule.

“TBGA has an unrivalled reputation when it comes to helping manufacturers bring additive processes into their operations,” said John Croft, Manager of the AM Hub. “The Additive Manufacturing Certificate Program is a recognised course delivered by Purdue University, a highly regarded US university with outstanding credentials in the additive manufacturing space.”

Further down the line, TBGA will also be delivering a range of additional training options, including shorter and more specialised courses, that will also be available via the AM Hub.

“This will be the first of a series of courses that will be developed around additive manufacturing which will be offered as we move forward,” Croft added. “Our plan is to engage with the Australian manufacturing industry by bringing a range of short courses brought to you by experienced industry leaders to start the building skillsets around additive manufacturing!”

Led by AMTIL and supported by the Victorian Government, the Additive Manufacturing Hub has been established to grow and develop additive manufacturing capability. To find out more, contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666, or email

Sentient Bionics gets a helping hand from the AM Hub

When Sentient Bionics required rapid production of prototype parts for its new robotic hand project, it turned to AMTIL’s Additive Manufacturing Hub (AM Hub) for assistance.

Based in Port Melbourne, Sentient Bionics has been developing anthropomorphic robotic grippers for more than half a decade. During that time the company has worked with prosthetic users, hospitals and industry partners to develop a range of grippers suitable to satisfy everyday human and robotic needs. Familiarity, versatility and affordability are at the core of Sentient Bionics’s ethos, and it has developed hands that allow people and robots to interact in a natural and effective way.

Additive manufacturing has already been a large part of Sentient’s business, giving it the ability to quickly prototype both adult and child-sized prosthetic mechanical hands. Additive manufacturing’s fast development time has allowed Sentient Bionics to start clinical trials and quickly respond to feedback gained through them with helpful and progressive design changes.

While Sentient Bionics specialises in the design and assembly of technology and devices, it has outsourced the manufacturing of components. Although it has some basic desktop fused deposition modelling (FDM) printers in-house, which it uses for rapid prototyping operations, the company gets all the parts that it uses for testing and consumer-level products made professionally by additive manufacturing (AM) service providers.

The challenge

Sentient Bionics accessed the Build It Better (BiB) voucher programme via the Additive Manufacturing Hub (AM Hub) to assist it in initiating a new robotic hand project, as well enhancing the continuation of its prosthetic hand product line. Sentient Bionic’s dynamic design process required several prototype parts to be manufactured quickly so they could be tested and altered according to results, and additive manufacturing was chosen as the primary method of manufacture.

The solution

Sentient Bionics received manufacturing services from two Victorian companies – GoProto (ANZ) Pty Ltd and Objective 3D Pty Ltd – within the scope of its BiB voucher, which covered 50% of the service costs.

AM Hub member GoProto was engaged for a range of additive manufacturing services including:

  • Manufacturing structural and functional parts designed by Sentient Bionics for the robotic and prosthetic hands, including the palm (front and back), internal mechanism and phalanges, using GoProto’s HP Multi-jet Fusion Printing capabilities.
  • Manufacturing various other parts designed by Sentient Bionics required for internally used tools and rigs, as well as parts for several smaller side projects of Sentient Bionics as part of their professional design contract work.

The services received from GoProto reflected Sentient Bionics’s sustainable mindset, through the use of HP MJF PA11 and PA12. Both PA11 and PA12 are high-reusability materials that minimise waste, and PA11 is a renewable raw material produced from vegetable castor oil, resulting in a reduced environmental impact.

Objective 3D, also an AM Hub member, was engaged for services including the manufacture of structural and functional parts of the prosthetic and robotic hands, which require alternative manufacturing methods not supplied by GoProto such as metal 3D printing and Polyjet 3D printing.

The BiB voucher programme would be crucial in allowing Sentient Bionics the capacity to expand its product range, grow its intellectual property (IP), and delve into new industries.

The outcome

With the help of the BiB voucher programme, Sentient Bionics went from a simple, harness-powered prosthetic product with no motor actuation, to a versatile robot gripper capable of integration with existing robotic systems.

Thanks to the financial assistance of the BiB voucher programme and the guidance and expertise of the AM Hub, Sentient Bionics’s research project was able to cut down manufacturing costs significantly. It made it feasible to undertake more development work across one year than Sentient Bionics had previously achieved ever since forming as a company. More engineers were hired, and the company relaunched its website with new content and new products. In addition the team attended more conferences, broke into new industries, and developed promising leads for future collaboration and sales pipelines as a result of networking within the AM Hub community.

Sentient Bionics now sees additive manufacturing playing a crucial role in its future – as its development continues (as it will for a number of years), so do its requirements for a manufacturing method that allows for iterative design changes and high-quality parts. The current designs for its new robotic product rely primarily on additive manufacturing, and the team at Sentient Bionics do not expect that to change anytime soon.

With the help of the AM Hub, Sentient Bionics was able to expand into new industries and markets, and within these new markets demonstrate the benefits of additive manufacturing.

The AM Hub is an initiative delivered by AMTIL in partnership with the Victorian State Government to provide an industry-driven collaborative network of technology users, suppliers and supporters that will promote the adoption of additive manfacturing technology. For more information, please contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666 or email

FELIXprinters assists in commercialisation of vegan-friendly 3D-printed salmon

FELIXprinters’s BIOprinter has been used to successfully manufacture vegan salmon with a taste, texture and appearance seemingly identical to real salmon.

Headquartered in IJsselstein, in the Netherlands, FELIXprinters was established in 2010 to provide top-end, robust, reliable, and competitively priced 3D printing solutions for industry users. FELIXprinters has established itself as a key player in the supply of mid-priced highly accurate industrial additive manufacturing machines. The company’s reputation is built upon the Pro 3, Pro L, and Pro XL platforms, which are used throughout an array of industry sectors for challenging additive manufacturig (AM) production applications.

FELIXprinters recently introduced the BIOprinter, which was developed on the chassis of the established FELIXprinters product line, building on tried and tested technology that has already been serving manufacturers for years. The printer is characterised by several key features that are specifically designed for medical, scientific, and research applications, including syringe cooling, print bed cooling and heating, a dual head system, easy syringe positioning (ergonomic access to the machine supports researchers in their work), and automatic bed levelling.

In recent months a group of international students has developed a 3D printing technique that enables them to print complex binders and proteins into plant-based fish alternatives, and at the heart of this research is the FELIX BIOprinter.

The trio of students from The University of Gothenburg (in Sweden), Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (in Spain), and The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) started to work together on an EU-led project in 2017. During their work research as part of Training4CRM, a research project which uses 3D printing to develop treatments of neurodegenerative disorders, the team realised that similar techniques could be applied to 3D print plant-based proteins.

Identifying a gap in the market within the seafood sector for more structured vegan-friendly fish-based products, the team began developing its plant-based alternative. The process is now set to be launched commercially under the trading name Legendary Vish, with the aim of providing a healthier and tastier alternative to existing vegan-friendly fish substitutes.

The step forward in the technology is the ability to create seafood products with complex structures that would be impossible using traditional extrusion technologies, and this was achieved through the use of the FELIX BIOprinter.

The key driver behind the use of 3D printing for fish production centres around sustainability issues, addressing the fact that many of the world’s fisheries are at the moment pushed beyond their biological limits. In addition, 3D printing fish rather than relying on traditional fishing methods reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the destruction of the oceans, and negates the need to use antibiotics, a common necessity to “aquacure” salmon in fish farms.

In an attempt to tackle these environmental challenges, the student team built on the extrusion-based 3D printing technique they’d developed as part of project Training4CRM, to 3D print fish instead of medicinal products. Using the FELIX BIOprinter, the AM method works by extruding a range of plant-based bio-inks, the BIOprinter allowing the extrusion of different plant-based ingredients (basically “food-inks”) through different print heads. This allows the production of the complex appearance of salmon fillets, showing the realistic distribution of orange/red meat tissue and white connective tissue.

Wilgo Feliksdal, co-founder of FELIXprinters, commented: “The BIOprinter consists of an adaptable and flexible ecosystem to ensure that it can meet a wide range of researchers’ needs without generating unnecessary costs, and we are delighted that it has been at the core of the work undertaken at Legendary Vish.

“One major advantage is the source control system, which enables the user to use standard slicing software and make changes themselves if needed. Also, syringes are not restricted to expensive brand-specific or in-house produced products that essentially drive up operating costs. The machine instead has been designed to use a standard 5ml syringe, and standardised petri dishes and culture plates, so there are no limitations on auxiliary parts and materials.”

Beyond the optimisation of its industrial range of printers, FELIXprinters has extensive engineering and R&D capabilities, which it is able to utilise to provide specific services in the development of tailor made, customised 3D printing platforms — working in partnership to produce new and innovative solutions.

“The FELIX BIOprinter is appropriate for all types of bio-printing research, and is equipped with strong motors that can extrude a range of different viscosity of materials, which was invaluable when being used to simulate the look and feel of salmon,” Feliksdal added. “In addition, the BIOprinter has been designed to be easily upgradeable, which means that the lifecycle of the machine can be extended without compromising quality, reliability, and productivity.”

3D printing during COVID-19 – A blueprint for future manufacturing

While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many industries and their supply chains, it has been incredible to see how the healthcare sector has responded – helped in many ways by the clever use of 3D printing. By Michael Boyle, Managing Director, HP Australia & New Zealand.

The sudden shortage of essential medical equipment brought on by the pandemic, including respiratory support and personal protective equipment (PPE), has offered a glimpse at how supply chain disruptions can be mitigated with 3D printing, as well as new business opportunities 3D printing can provide when adopted at a large scale.

One advantage of 3D printing is extreme flexibility and the ability to rapidly redeploy equipment from one task to another – in other words, to retool. Using a 3D printer, you can be creating building materials one moment and medical prosthetics the next by loading a digital design of the new part into the printer. This agility makes 3D printing useful for prototyping and for making low-run parts that can be used to repair outdated equipment or create custom products to solve unique challenges.

Flexibility has allowed industries to repurpose their production and R&D capabilities towards manufacturing mass quantities of hand sanitizer, producing tens of thousands of masks and gowns, and retooling factories to assemble face shields. In New Zealand, not-for-profit group ShieldsUp has worked with HP New Zealand, Emirates Team New Zealand and Rodin Cars New Zealand, along with hundreds of 3D printing enthusiasts and volunteers across the country, to design and deliver almost 18,000 face shields in under two months.

Triple Eight Race Engineering managed to successfully transfer its 3D printing capabilities from the racetrack to the ICU ward. When approached by the Queensland State Government, the team redirected their HP 3D printers that were typically reserved for producing car parts, towards designing and manufacturing critical ventilator components.

At HP, we have been mobilising our 3D Printing team and global Digital Manufacturing Partner Network to design, validate and produce essential parts for medical responders and hospitals. More than 158,000 3D-printed parts have been delivered to frontline workers in Asia Pacific, with over 2.3 million parts printed globally.

Beyond boosting the supply of PPE for healthcare workers during COVID-19, 3D printing is allowing companies to transform their supply chain strategies and introduce on-demand manufacturing for the long term. The real-time nature of 3D printing not only helps businesses retool to solve immediate supply shortages, it simplifies and shortens supply chains by allowing components to be produced closer to home and nearer to the customer. By extension, the headaches that often come with navigating international transportation, tariffs, and exposure to geopolitics, are reduced.

Moreover, cost-effective trial and error can encourage rapid prototyping that fosters greater innovation, personalisation of products, and improved time-to-market. The ability to print a customer’s order as required also has the potential to save businesses from holding large inventories of product and reduce costs associated with holding warehouse space.

The current crisis has reminded us how interconnected our supply chains are, with conduct in one country having a ripple effect across the globe. Yet thanks to 3D printing, the pandemic has also reminded us of the value of local manufacturing and the need to promote capability-based alliances across industries.

Replicating experiences seen in the healthcare sector, the benefits of on-demand printing to shortened supply chains and improved time-to-market apply to all industries and businesses. As businesses begin assessing their strategic priorities and changes to manage the impact of COVID-19 on operations, we should learn from past experiences and embrace cutting-edge technology, like 3D printing, to streamline operations and reduce exposure to global fluctuations.

Additive manufacturing capability sees Romar Engineering soar

It doesn’t always take a giant to reach for the stars. Romar Engineering is a small Sydney-based manufacturer that has quietly built a robust reputation for quality and expertise over the last 50 years, and continues to enhance its capabilities – most recently diversifying into metal additive manufacturing.

Based in Sefton, New South Wales, Romar Engineering is well known across the industry for medical device manufacturing, yet it also has remarkably diverse proficiency across silicone, micro moulding, precision moulding, clean room manufacturing, elastomers and several other areas of industrial manufacturing, including precision inspection, five-axis machining, metal additive manufacturing and design for manufacture.

Romar’s success lies at the intersection of manufacturing expertise and cautious innovation. It has continually looked at ways to strengthen and expand its capability, while remaining committed to core objectives of high-quality, commercially viable, scalable manufacturing solutions.

In recent years Romar has invested in technology and additional expertise to build an entirely new arm, in the field of advanced additive manufacturing.

“Currently, around 65% of our business is with the manufacture of medical devices,” says Alan Lipman, CEO of Romar Engineering. “In recent years we’ve built up deep knowledge and capability in advanced manufacturing for industrial sectors. This means we are firmly positioned to offer innovative manufacturing solutions for sectors including aerospace, mining and defence, and we are looking to expand in those sectors over the next few years.”

Facilitating growth in advanced manufacturing sectors

At the heart of Romar’s advanced manufacturing capability is a state-of-the-art 3D printer with significant and singular capability – the DMG Mori Lasertec 65 3D 5-axis synchronous laser deposition, welding and milling machine. It’s the only machine of its kind in Australia – and indeed one of only three operating in commercial settings globally – so it brings something very special to the local market.

With the Lasertec 65, Romar can develop, prototype, test and manufacture superior-quality components and can repair, renew and replace existing components. The potential across the defence, rail and aerospace sectors is immense.

Casting technology is one of the oldest manufacturing processes, and is used extensively in aerospace and defence. The cost of maintaining investment casting tools is a significant portion of total lifecycle budgets, and it can be avoided through intelligent process selection. The Lasertec 65 is enabling high value aerospace and defence customers to eliminate these costs by substituting a digital model with flexible manufacturing instead.

With the Lasertec 65, Romar’s additive manufacturing potential includes metal-on and metal-off hybrid manufacturing of highly complex components. It can engineer scalable new designs and develop one-off prototypes, quickly, cost-effectively and with precision accuracy. Additional features of the Lasertec 65 include the ability to combine different metals (including hard and soft metals), a large build size up to 600mm in diameter, quick-build capability (up to 10 faster than traditional powder bed-based systems), and the option to manufacture parts that require no modification or treatment, for immediate use. For Romar’s customers, it means increased flexibility and fast-response production solutions.

Collaborating with Jet Engines Australia

Romar’s capability to produce fast-build, large-size, one-off and scalable production has potential across multiple advanced manufacturing sectors.

“Our 3D printer affords us the capability to create monolithic, multi-material metal structures that can be finish-machined and inspected all in a single set-up,” says Steve Milanoski, Romar’s Head of Advanced Manufacturing, and a former additive manufacturing specialist with SpaceX. “This increase in machine accuracy correlates strongly to component performance, allowing clients to push designs harder for longer.”

One of the first Australian aerospace companies to collaborate with Romar is Jet Engines Australia, a local manufacturer currently developing high-tech jet engines for multiple applications. Romar is working with Jet Engines Australia to manufacture engines for military and commercial autonomous operations.

“We are working with Jet Engines Australia to create a turbojet engine around a metre long,” says Lipman. “This will be the first Australian designed and manufactured engine in some time, if not ever. Engine manufacture will fully leverage Romar’s additive and advanced manufacturing capabilities and focus on resilient supply chain sourcing models.”

Beating powderbed additive at its own game

Conformal cooling, in the parlance of additive manufacturing, typically belongs solely to the powderbed additive methods … until now. Romar has recently been redesigning existing mould cores that utilise conformal cooling to achieve greater cooling efficiencies.

“Where directed-energy deposition (DED)-based additive manufacturing is disadvantaged through complex geometries, we make up through the combining of multiple materials to optimise performance,” says Milanoski.

Romar Engineering is using advanced mould-flow simulation to optimise the channel size and shape, while also adding highly conductive copper to the core for greater thermal efficiency. Utilising hybrid manufacturing to modify existing parts allows for faster turnaround times – as opposed to powderbed processing cycles that can often last months –  which is an Australian advanced manufacturing capability unique to Romar.

The work has the potential to reduce moulding cycle times further. Decreasing cycle times results in higher energy efficiency, which results in not only a cost benefit but an environmental one as well.

While Romar is building credentials in the additive and advanced manufacturing arenas, it has not altered its scope for first-class medical manufacturing and the provision of medical-grade silicone. It remains a leader in the manufacture of medical devices with facilities including a world-class clean room.

Romar’s cutting-edge facilities and technology are drawcards, but at the core of the company’s breadth of capability is an exceptional, multi-disciplined team of leading biomedical engineers, advanced manufacturing engineers and materials scientists.

“Nothing replaces engineering experience,” says Lipman. It’s why Romar has built a formidable reputation for manufacturing excellence and why its future projects are set to soar.

Angel Trains rolls out 3D-printed parts on UK trains

Faced with the challenge of producing replacement parts for a diverse fleet of trains, UK firm Angel Trains found a powerful cost-effective solution in 3D printing.

Founded in 1994, Angel Trains is a leading rolling stock provider for the UK rail industry, financing and delivering high-quality trains to UK passenger service operators. Each year, it makes significant investment in innovative solutions to modernise train fleets. One of its biggest challenges is finding an alternative to the traditional supply chain for replacement parts, which struggles to cope with growing demands.

Unlike the automotive industry, where vehicles are mass produced in millions each year, rail industry fleets are comparatively small, and in some cases more than 30 years old. This combination presents several challenges for train operators, especially regarding vehicle maintenance and part replacement.

“In recent times, we’ve seen growing concern among operators that sourcing replacement parts for older train fleets at a reasonable cost and in a short timeframe is proving increasingly difficult,” explained James Brown, Data & Performance Engineer at Angel Trains. “The problem is that traditional manufacturing methods only make it cost-effective to produce high volumes of spare parts, even though an operator may only need a few obsolete train parts replaced. Lead times can also take months, exacerbating the issue even further.”

As a result, Angel Trains teamed up with Stratasys and engineering consultancy DB ESG to show train operators how they can overcome these hurdles by 3D printing lower quantities of parts in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods. This cross-industry collaboration soon resulted in the first 3D-printed parts ever deployed within an in-service passenger train in the UK. They included four passenger armrests and seven grab handles, installed on Chiltern Railways trains.

Cutting production costs and lead times

Stratasys’ Rail Industry Solution comprises rail-qualified materials and production-grade fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printing. This lets Angel Trains achieve major time and cost efficiencies in part replacement.

Using conventional manufacturing, the lead time for the armrest would be approximately four months. However, according to Brown, the final part can be produced within one week with Stratasys, representing a lead-time decrease of almost 94%, with cost savings of up to 50% per part.

Similarly, in the case of the on-seat grab handle, the replacement part was obsolete, and the original supplier was no longer in operation. To make new grab handles, a new manufacturing tool would have been required, costing up to £15,000 ($27,500) with an expected lead time of two-and-a-half months. With the Rail Industry Solution, the grab handles were produced in just three weeks at a significantly lower cost per part.

“With Stratasys’ Rail Industry Solution, train operators can be much more responsive to replacing passenger-facing parts that get damaged or vandalised,” said Brown. “An obsolete replacement part can be 3D printed on demand and installed immediately, enabling operators to get vehicles back into service quicker and better maintain their trains – improving the quality of service for passengers.”

To overcome the challenge of certifying 3D printed parts for use in passenger trains, DB ESG conducted comprehensive testing on a range of industrial-grade 3D printing materials. The final parts were printed in ULTEM 9085 resin using a Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D printer. The highly accurate production printer features a large heated build chamber, so parts meet the strict tolerances and repeatability requirements of industry, as well as allowing large single parts or multiple smaller parts to be printed in one run. Last year, ULTEM 9085 resin was certified to the rail industry’s fire, smoke and toxicity standard, EN45545-2, a first for the rail industry.

Martin Stevens, Mechanical Engineering Manager at DB ESG, commented: “Gaining this certification removes a major barrier that has prevented more widespread implementation of 3D printing across UK trains.”

Improving passenger experience

With low-volume production now achievable, Angel Trains is already exploring how it can leverage Stratasys’ Rail Industry Solution to customise interiors better suited to the passenger commute.

“We’ve tested 3D-printed seat-back tables with braille, informing the passenger that the toilet is ten rows back from that particular seat,” said Brown. “This level of customisation is unprecedented and can only be enabled by 3D printing, offering the potential to significantly improve passenger experience in the future.”

Following the success of the Chiltern Railways trial, the group has established a repeatable process for future projects that produces parts compliant with rail industry standards and suitable for use in passenger vehicles. With positive responses from train operators, the deployment of 3D printed parts will now be extended onto trains with another UK passenger train operator.

QSP Engineering gears up for the future

With a vision for future demand, QSP Engineering recently moved premises from Loganholme to Bethania in the outer suburbs of Brisbane, and introduced new technology into its metal spraying business.

With the aim of retaining QSP’s position as a key provider of metal spraying repairs for worn parts, Managing Director Neville Brokenshire looked to install the latest innovations in metal spraying technology, to ensure high-quality output and a more efficient, cost-effective process to integrate into its workshop services. Already utilising a fibre-coupled high-power diode laser by Laserline supplied by Raymax Applications for laser cladding with metal powder, Brokenshire sought advice from Dr Cédric Chaminade from Raymax in regard to improving output. A new coaxial nozzle was deemed the solution.

High processing speeds with specifically designed coaxial nozzles used with Laserline fibre-coupled diode lasers provide distinct advantages, including low exposure time, strong metallurgical bonds between the cladding layers and substrate, low warpage, and short, highly energy-efficient cladding times. By introducing a new laser cladding nozzle, QSP has effectively extended the current available advantages to its customer base.

A coaxial nozzle combines inert gas flows and metal powder with exceptional throughput capability. Additionally, protection glass monitoring extends the lifetime of consumables, while at the same time ensuring a reliable process. The new Coax11, developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology, represents a flexible processing tool for cladding applications and guarantees a stable and controllable process as well as the highest precision in material deposition. High-power diode lasers from Laserline in Germany can provide cladding solutions with up to 20kW of laser power, and use wide track processing optics providing the highest powder deposition rates available.

Industries where components are constantly exposed to high stress become fatigued and worn, requiring replacement or repair. Today, high-throughput laser cladding, or metal deposition, is demonstrating not just the effectiveness of repair but the metallurgical connection between the additional layer and the basis material can actually extend the life of the original part. Repairs to large-sized drilling tools used in oil extraction, boring or mining, marine engine parts, or earthmoving equipment can all be effectively repaired using laser cladding.

In Australia, there is a growing market for laser coating of hydraulic cylinders from technical mining facilities such as coal extraction. Its new laser cladding equipment is a timely acquisition for QSP, as the economic downturn and limitations imposed on importing new component parts are changing industry behaviour and fuelling demand for local repairs. With trained and experienced staff and over 25 years in the industry, QSP stands to gain an edge over its competitors, geared up and ready to meet this increased local demand.