Additive Manufacturing Hub case study: Megafun

Commissioned to created an innovative animated zoetrope exhibit for the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, Megafun made use of 3D printing to overcome the challenges the project presented, working with GoProto via the Additive Manufacturing Hub (AM Hub) at AMTIL.

Based in Melbourne, Megafun is a designer and project manager of exhibitions and theatre works with more than 23 years of experience in providing creative and technical services to companies, artists and exhibitions around the world. The company specialises in delivering quality theatre and events and creating intriguing and engaging interactive experiences.

Megafun was engaged to develop, construct and install a new 3D animated zoetrope in ACMI’s permanent exhibition space. For this new zoetrope, Canadian video game company Studio MDHR was approached to provide the characters and storyline from its Cuphead series of games.

While the historical zoetrope concept was a slitted drum, this new variation is a 3D animation. A disc spinning at a set speed is illuminated with flashing strobe lighting. Each flash illuminates a slightly new position of the disc as it turns. By aligning objects and characters at just the right spacing with slight adjustments of position, these elements will appear to move – exactly like filmed animation, only in three dimensions.


The Cuphead range of characters from Studio MDHR existed only in a two-dimensional form, and it required a skilled 3D artist to develop three-dimensional versions of these characters that could exist in a dimensional world. This work was undertaken by video games artist John Aitchison, who laboriously recreated every nuance of each character. This wasn’t easy, as some of the characters defied physics in their 2D form, so they had to be adapted and adjusted in order to make the transition.

The Cuphead characters were created in a 1940s/50s drawing style and incorporate “stretch and squash” characteristics; they also feature elements that are quite fine. These features made the 3D modelling process more complex, and certain features needed to be adjusted to allow for the limitations of the printing process. For example, very fine limbs with large hands can be particularly difficult in the world of 3D models, especially when spinning at 60rpm.

Studio MDHR developed the animation storyboard and created a series of images of both the individual characters as well as an overview of the collective characters in the animation, which were passed to John, the 3D artist. He then worked closely with the creators over a period of months to turn the characters into models based on the material provided, the limitations of the modelling/3D process, and in response to feedback from Studio MDHR.

Once the individual characters were approved, he laid them out according to the storyboard, taking support structures into account for when the digital version would become physical. Posts of stainless steel 4mm in diameter were used to support the characters, so they had to be designed and modelled to allow for this, with suitable holes into which the post could fit. Once complete, a digital 3D animation of the final zoetrope was created for review and adjustment prior to rendering each character as an individual file.

The disc that supports the zoetrope animation was constructed of a high quality aluminium plate. This plate is pressed and then ground perfectly flat to avoid any noticeable movement, then mounted on a quality bearing, and spun with a motor capable of precise speeds and fine control. The plate included a series of pre-drilled holes designed to take the posts that supported the characters. These holes needed to be extremely accurate and could not be placed until the digital animation was complete and signed off.

“Initially it was intended to 3D print the supporting understructure; however this proved to be far too costly,” explains Keith Tucker, Director of Megafun. “We did however need it to be highly accurate. The result was to create it with a CNC router using high-density fibreboard in numerous layers. We needed to cut away the interiors to keep the weight down, but it proved to be over 800% cheaper than the 3D option.”

Printing 3D models

Of course, the digital models needed to be turned into physical models, which was undertaken using a full colour 3D printing technique. In taking this approach, Megafun sought support from AMTIL’s AM Hub through its Build It Better (BIB) voucher programme.

“One of the reasons these types of zoetropes are now achievable is 3D printing,” Tucker explains. “Before this technology it would have been very difficult to create characters with the highly accurate small movements of limbs and facial expressions that 3D printing allows.

“Printing techniques have developed considerably over time, and we elected to use a full colour nylon print that resulted in robust and lightweight characters. This process has the advantage of being much more robust, lighter and able to support much finer features.”

Megafun used GoProto as the print house, which received the models from the artist and reviewed them for efficacy and structure. Various adjustments were made during this process to address some vertex errors and internal structures.

“We faced a number of significant budget pressures due to the size and shape of the models being difficult to fit into the print bin in large numbers,” says Tucker. “We were able to address some of the cost issues by printing some characters in parts – legs, arms and torsos – allowing a tighter fit in the print bin. However we were hampered by the colour rendering restraints where models had to sit in the same orientation in order to ensure an accurate colour match.”

Colour ended up being another significant issue, as the printed colours were often considerably different to the digital colours. Megafun had to make many adjustments and undertake numerous test prints before the rendering was suitable. Black proved particularly difficult as the darkest black would always only print in grey, meaning some compromises in the final rendering were unavoidable.

Once printed, the models needed to be prepared by cleaning, sandblasting and sealing with clear lacquer. This was time-consuming work as it is done by hand. The overall print process proved to take a considerable time, further exacerbated by limitations stemming from the COVID-19 crisis.

“We ended up being in the print phase for over six months, which was very challenging” recalls Tucker. “Were we to undertake this again we would need to have a process that could minimise this timescale.”

Once printing was complete, the models were fitted to their support posts and mounted into the pre-drilled holes in the disc surface, ensuring correct orientation and character order. Finally, a drop of adhesive was used to ensure the models didn’t move when the disc is spinning.


After extraordinary levels of detail and fine tuning, Megafun finally had the opportunity to fire up the finished piece – a moment that Tucker describes as “magical”. Characters that had previously been static now came to life. Locked into their respective frames they created a seamless fully dimensional animation.

The exhibit was transported into ACMI where it was fitted into its joinery housing and accompanied by a composed soundtrack.

“The reaction from staff and guests has been universally positive,” says Tucker. “The experience of seeing static models come to life is so unusual people are genuinely amazed. It is a truly powerful animation technique.”

Megafun has a well established reputation for delivering highly technical interactive exhibits for major institutions, and this project has further enhanced its standing – a hugely positive outcome for the business. While there is not a lack of interest in the possibility of delivering similar projects to other organisations, the very high costs involved represent an ongoing obstacle.

“If we were able to create this type of dimensional animation at a lower cost, I am confident we would be able to place work of this kind in numerous locations, where the content could effectively support the nature of the site,” says Tucker. “The current delivered price of around $200,000, however, makes it very difficult to compete with the more ubiquitous but considerably cheaper computer or video-based displays.”

Megafun’s aim is to continue to pursue opportunities in this field and will investigate the options for reducing costs. In the 3D printing area in particular, the company intends to try to bring the delivered price down to a level where it starts to become competitive.

“We take this opportunity to thank AMTIL and the AM Hub for their support and for the inclusion in the BIB voucher programme,” says Tucker. “Without this, we may not have successfully been able to deliver this project.”

The AM Hub is an initiative delivered by AMTIL in partnership with the Victorian State Government to promote the adoption of additive manufacturing technology. For more information, please contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666 or email

Using laser additive technologies in the repair of military aircraft

The increased precision of next-generation military requires new and innovative repair and sustainment solutions, as traditional repairs become more difficult or even impossible. Recently a collaboration between a group of Australian organisations has resulted in the development of laser additive repair, which is now being employed by RUAG Australia.

Military aircraft represent some of the most advanced engineering on the planet, with minimal weight design, precise machining and highly specialised materials all contributing to the high cost of new platforms and spare parts. The incredible price tag associated with maintaining such platforms is a major issue for Australia, where harsh sunlight and coastal corrosion accelerate the need for part replacements in addition to the rigors of service. Australia’s current reliance on legacy systems and overseas suppliers can also lead to aircraft being grounded until suitable replacements are found, presenting major costs in aircraft readiness and reliability.

To address this critical problem, a collaborative project led by RUAG Australia and involving Swinburne University, DMTC, the Department of Defence (Defence Science and Technology Group) and the RMIT Centre for Additive Manufacturing is targeting new and innovative technologies for sovereign industrial repair of military aircraft.

A key research area at RMIT is laser additive repair of aerospace-grade steels, in which a scanned laser beam is combined with metal powder delivery to successively build up multiple layers and replace damaged material. This is advantageous compared with traditional grind-out and weld repair methods, as not only is the original component geometry maintained, but thermal damage to surrounding areas is also limited due to the rapid heating/cooling of laser processing.

While the concept of laser additive repair is simple, its successful implementation is very challenging, particularly for aircraft steels where the process must be optimised both to avoid defects such as porosity, and to control the thermal history during deposition. This temperature control is necessary to optimise the properties of the deposited steel by providing an in-situ heat treatment, since conventional bulk heat treatments risk relaxing service stresses in used parts, causing them to become warped and unusable. Further difficulty is presented by the different requirements of different steels, with changing melting temperatures, tempering ranges, and risks of embrittlement all needing to be considered for desirable performance.

A wide number of aerospace steels have been investigated through this project, including AISI 4340, AISI 420SS, 15-5PH, Aermet 100, and 300M, which can reach incredible strengths up to 2,000 megapascals (MPa). Such strength is vital to landing gear components as they must withstand the shock of impact while also being subject to intense fatigue loading during take-off and landing as they carry the aircraft’s weight.

The bulk of the deposition has been carried out on an industrial-scale 3kW TRUMPF TruLaser Cell at the RMIT Centre for Additive Manufacturing, which makes use of a large working volume (1,500mm by 1,800mm by 750mm) and motorised focus optics for the rapid assessment of various processing parameters, material behaviour, and deposition strategies. Supported by Swinburne University, and the RMIT Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility (RMMF), the critical analysis of both microstructure and mechanical performance of simulated repairs has led to more than 25 publications since 2015 and over 500 citations. Most recently, a detailed examination of the repair of 300M has shown laser additive repair to provide significant improvement in tensile properties compared to traditional methods, with the fatigue performance of deep 40% repairs showing similar fatigue performance to light 10% grind-out repairs used for legacy aircraft.

As such, laser additive repair is capable of restoring structural capacity and is not limited to cosmetic surface repair of worn geometries, with the final properties converging to that of the deposit as the repair depth is increased. This is limited by the capacity for in-situ tempering capacity of the steel grade, which for 300M is achieved by replicating the typical quench and temper cycles through additional cooling times between tracks and layers. While the peak temperature during deposition may lead to a slight softening of the deposit, the overall strength remains sufficient to reclaim a wide range of components previously believed unsalvageable.

Based on the above research, RUAG Australia has continued to develop its state-of-the-art laser additive repair facility with the support of RMIT and Swinburne, which has already been used for the repair of in-service components for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). This not only includes the geometric restoration of a worn parts deemed beyond safe limits, but also the refurbishment of internal cylinder threads using specialised deposition nozzles. These repairs are currently with the airworthiness authority for acceptance and incorporation approval.

This new sovereign capability to restore worn surfaces and carry out structural repairs in this country is a significant gain for Australia, as parts can be restored at a fraction of the cost of replacement while reducing Australia’s reliance on overseas suppliers. Continued laser repair research at RMIT and Swinburne into modern stainless steels looks to further expand the repair capacity at RUAG, safeguarding the longevity of next-generation platforms where traditional repairs are not possible or very difficult.

Dr Cameron Barr is a Research Fellow at RMIT University. Professor Milan Brandt is Technical Director of RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct. Suresh Palanisamy is Deputy Chair – Department of Mechanical and Product Design Engineering at Swinburne University. Rizwan Abdul Rahman Rashid is a Research Fellow at Swinburne University. Neil Matthews is Senior Manager – Additive Technologies and Engineering Services at RUAG Australia. Qianchu Liu is a Senior Research Scientist in the Aerospace Division at the Department of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG). Khan Sharp is Research Leader – Aerospace Materials, Aerospace Division at the DSTG. Miles Kenyon is the Head of Maritime Strategy and Education – Program Leader at DMTC.

Optimising spare parts management using mobile 3D printing solutions

Additive manufacturing (AM) using 3D printing is now considered a promising way to optimise spare parts management by reducing levels of inventory, saving on lead times and logistics, negating down-time and reducing overall costs.

Having access to parts as needed that can be 3D printed is a positive solution for industries operating in remote locations such as mining, oil & gas production, power stations, farming equipment and wind farms. The convenience factor offers a convincing argument for on-demand production for parts that unexpectedly break, wear out before time, or become affected by environmental conditions.

An emerging solution for the provision of AM-produced spare parts is being offered by German company Bionic Production, with its revolutionary mobile, modular 3D printing system, or better known as a “factory in a box”. Bionic Production has an extensive history in design, development and service, producing the renowned Bugatti brake caliper using an SLM Solutions multi-laser system. By applying bionic design techniques, the initial model was reviewed, the maximum possible tensile strength determined, and the topology optimised for 3D printing. Using its technical and methodological expertise and experience as 3D printers and developers, Bionic Production now supplies the Mobile Smart Factory, which enables cost-efficient and fast supply of both metal and plastic spare parts.

Spare parts management is a critical and challenging element for a profitable business operation. Holding unnecessary parts can be a costly exercise, as illustrated by research findings in Europe where companies said that more than 10% of spare parts kept in stock were obsolete or even not needed. Production of on-demand spare parts using 3D printing technology has become more important in the last few years with limited manufacturing and transport restrictions, so delivering the most advanced manufacturing technologies in a convenient package is set to improve these shortcomings.

Some companies have already recognised the potential of 3D printing spare parts, developing their skill base and competence in the area of AM. One example is the German railway operator Deutsche Bahn, which has now printed more than 7,000 spare parts, resulting in a significant reduction in lead times and logistics costs.

According to the World Economic Forum, 3D printing of spare parts could save costs and time worth US$30bn. Unfortunately, the uptake by businesses is still minimal, with concerns relating to identifying a real business case, and to finding skilled and well-trained designers, engineers and technicians. Now, in Australia as with other countries around the world, the modular, fully equipped Mobile Smart Factory has the advantage of providing a simple and effective solution.

The Mobile Smart Factory comprises two standard 20-foot shipping containers: one ‘box’ contains the ‘office’, while the second contains the laser system and post processing facilities. Within the two boxes all pre and post-production processing equipment is provided. This flexibility of software and hardware allows not just for the production of replacement parts, but the opportunity is afforded with 3D printing for developing new, more efficient parts that can actually be tried on location. The Smart Factory can easily be transported to a remote location, by truck, rail or ship. It is fully water-proof and durable and can be relocated to where it is most needed.

To begin, each customer starts with identifying the kind of application required. Working together with the Bionic Production team, the 3D parts for printing are identified, scanned, or ideas and drawings are prepared in CAD format. The files are then made ready for the operator, stored on the virtual system ready for use with the push of a button to commence printing. Detailed specifications and documentation are on hand to support the user at each process step. Each Mobile Smart Factory is tailor-made to suit the needs of the customer.

While a powder bed system is not an option due to the challenges of handling metal powder in remote locations, the Smart Factory may include wire arc additive manufacturing technology (WAAM). A metal AM laser system, the WAAM process uses arc welding to build up the product in a layering process. The Hybrid machine from METROM offers speeds of 600 cubic centimetres per hour, and a large build space with a diameter of 700mm and height of 450mm. Offering well-established technology, the system is easy to use and handle, even providing post-processing facilities for milling and drilling. The flexibility of this hybrid system means a fused deposition modelling (FDM) system for polymer products can also be offered. This flexibility provides a new advantage and can accommodate a broad number of industry groups as both metal and polymer parts can be built using the Mobile Smart Factory.

“Be it through the production of polymer and/or metal parts on-site, we have designed a solution that covers the entire AM process, from pre-processing to post-processing,” says Dr Johannes Schmidt, Senior Project Manager at Bionic Production.

Already instances of remote usage exist – for example using a Mobile Smart Factory can support wind farm operators on or off-shore, by printing and repairing pitch bearings on site. A pitch bearing can be designed and printed in several segments, offering real advantages in terms of replicability. Damaged segments can be readily exchanged on site without dismantling the blades or hub. Another example is to print flange connectors used in oil & gas production. It is possible to print these in as little as one hour.

Bionic Production has brought to market a simple solution that opens up more opportunities for industries rarely seen as users of AM technology, but industries that will benefit from a supported, simple on-site application. Now available in Australia through Raymax Applications, each installation at the client’s designated site will be accompanied by initial advice, training, strategy development and a period of co-operative work in the operation of the Mobile Smart Factory.

AM Hub case study: Gazmick

Mining solutions firm Gazmick worked with the Additive Manufacturing Hub in the development of an innovative new concept for rock bolts used to provide mining ground support.

Gazmick is a small, privately owned business dedicated to improving ground support in the mining industry. Gazmick has enjoyed great success in patenting novel ground support solutions, such as rock bolts. Up to now its most successful bolt is the Stiff Split Set, a modified friction bolt. Via a licensing agreement, Gazmick has sold in excess of 4 million units throughout Australia and Asia. Gazmick looks to solve other rock bolt problems to enhance the safety and efficiency of mining and tunnelling operations.

The challenge

One common type of rock bolt is the resin bolt. In this embodiment a steel bar is locked into the rock using a two-part resin pack. Currently the resin is contained in a two-part “sausage” and placed into the hole in the strata. To avoid danger, this is done remotely, with the operator working approximately five metres away behind a protective steel canopy. This resin installation process has remained unchanged for the last 10 years and contributes significantly to the entire bolting cycle time. The process is:

  1. Drill the hole.
  2. Insert multiple sausages.
  3. Insert the steel bar, rotating it, and thereby mixing the resin at the same time.

A method of more easily placing resin and rock bolts in holes has been sought for a considerable period of time with little success.

Gazmick developed a patented solution whereby a canister full of resin, similar to a hypodermic syringe, is placed onto the rock bolt. The resin and hardener are separated in the canister. The nozzle of the canister is placed into a hole and the combination of the two products are injected into the hole by applying force to the rock bolt. Once the material is fully injected into the hole, further force is placed onto the steel bar. This punctures the top of the canister and allows the rock bolt to enter the hole through the nozzle of the canister. The bolt spins, thereby mixing the product, and a plate attached to the rock bolt crushes the canister between the strata and the plate.

Using this method, the old three-step process is reduced to two. It offers mine operators greater safety, improved quality of installation, and invaluable time-savings. The speed of the process is worth millions of dollars to mining companies worldwide.

The difficulty Gazmick faced was in determining and proving the mechanical properties of the canister. The tolerances are relatively small, and the need for accurate implementation activation was critical. Moreover, if the crown of the “piston” inside the canister was too strong the bolt could not pierce it and enter the hole. If it was too weak, the bolt would break through prematurely and the resin would not be injected into the hole. Getting the balance of all the components was critical in determining the practicalities of the concept.

Injection moulding of protypes would be far too expensive so a fast-tracked, cheap prototype construction method was required so that destructive testing could be undertaken. An additive manufacturing program using 3D printing techniques was identified as the fastest and most cost-effective way to construct the protypes, at which point Gazmick sought assistance from the Additive Manufacturing Hub (AM Hub).

The solution

The AM Hub engaged registered service providers GoProto (ANZ) Pty Ltd to assist Gazmick in its project. A finite element analysis (FEA) was undertaken of critical parts of the device. The physical properties of the crown of the piston inside the canister were critical. Prototypes were then 3D printed and tested against break-out strength in a calibrated load device.

Once a “preferred protype” was achieved, these were tested at the property of a Gazmick partner, where the use of a rock bolt simulation rig test could be undertaken. After multiple iterations, a successful combination of size and strength was achieved, and near-perfect results of resin mixing and rockbolt installation were observed in test sample cross sections.

How the Additive Manufacturing Hub helped

It was predicated that the project would make full use of a $17,940 co-contribution under the AM Hub’s Build It Better (BiB) voucher programme for 3D printing performed by GoProto ANZ. In the end, a total of $3,032.22 in total was spent. The fast-tracking of prototypes exceeded expectations, despite some delays that occurred as a result of fires in southern New South Wales, where the test facility was located, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which stopped all testing-related travel.

Project outcomes

Gazmick was able to test multiple iterations of its concept, which provided enough confidence to move forward with specialised in-field test prototypes – these are about to be constructed. The demonstration of the concept has also provided the confidence for a multi-national company to sign a heads of agreement with Gazmick, which will allow further testing and an option to manufacture and supply this product for worldwide distribution.

There is still work to be done, but Gazmick’s confidence has been greatly enhanced and the team is looking forward to conducting mine site trials in the immediate future.

The AM Hub is an initiative delivered by AMTIL in partnership with the Victorian State Government to promote the adoption of additive manufacturing technology. For more information, please contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666 or email

Additive Manufacturing Hub case study: Vesticam

Vesticam is an Australian medtech startup company that has developed an accessible device to help with the diagnosis of causes of dizziness, vertigo and balance disorders.

Vesticam evolved from the clinical need for simple, portable and affordable infra-red video goggles to record of eye movements during oculomotor tests. It is an innovative modification of existing trialled and tested equipment, making it portable, fully adjustable and accessible for widespread use. Vesticam’s product records eye movement (nystagmography) during over 15 standard bedside oculomotor tests, including tests that can only be done in the dark (with vision denied). The video and audio recordings can then be reviewed, stored or sent for second opinion.

Prior to Vesticam, no existing IR video goggles met all of the required clinical parameters of being fully adjustable, easy to focus, light and comfortable for patients to wear, completely light-tight, and able to switch quickly from vision-denied to with-vision.

A large part of the original design (innovation patented) was for an adjustable means of positioning a camera at a target. The design of Vesticam version 1 (V1) allowed the subject/patient to have a frame on their head (goggles) with a camera and illuminator, and for the user/clinician to very easily position the camera manually. The V1 design allows five degrees of movement in a simple configuration of ball and socket combined with slider.

The challenge

The V1 3D-printed version of the Vesticam IR video goggles was developed in 2018-19 by the company’s co-founder Burt Nathan with input from Suzanne Douglas, co-founder and director. The final version of Vesticam V1 was trialled and went into production and sale in 2019. With approximately 150 units in clinical use, feedback from clinicians, production, manufacturing and marketing was collated.

While the main clinical parameters had been met, there were significant issues to be addressed. These were:

  • Difficulty and inefficiency achieving light-tightness in the manufacturing and final testing stages.
  • A complete reliance on imported swimming goggles as a component.
  • The need for a simpler, user-friendly final product to meet the challenge of new competition.
  • The need for reduced manufacturing costs with less wastage.
  • The need for an ability to scale up and address higher volumes, with a view to meeting an increasing domestic and an export market.
  • A preference and ethic for on-shore manufacturing.
  • The need to be a certified medical device with future regulatory approval.
  • The desire for a more medical/clinical product aesthetic.

The next iteration of the product was intended to be designed for higher-volume production utilising injection moulding techniques. Designer Don Silak from View 7 (Victoria) started development of version 2 of Vesticam (V2), with injection moulding as the design-for-manufacturing (DFM) approach. The injection moulded V2 design had ongoing inherent issues with basic parameters of eye spacing adjustment, goggle light tighness and camera adjustment.

Followng review of the newly available possibility of multi jet fusion (MJF) additive manufacturing, the relatively small size of the niche market for this product, and the possibility of future modifications (for example, future embodiments may be WiFi-enabled), it was decided to move back to additive manufacturing and explore MJF as a manufacturing process.

Vesticam sought an additive manufacturing system based in Victoria with increased employees, use of local contractors, and minimal reliance on imported inputs. With this in mind, further research & development was needed to provide a design suitable to more advanced additive manufacturing that met the above requirements.

The solution

In undertaking the project, the Additive Manufacturing Hub engaged the assistance of registered service providers Cobalt Design Pty Ltd and GoProto (ANZ) Pty Ltd. An additive manufacturing program using current 3D printing techniques (including the more specialised MJF process) was identified as an excellent way to mitigate many of the above concerns.

The project started off with a design concept phase with Cobalt, exploring the clinical needs and requirements of the product. The final product needed to keep within the proven clinical parameters of being fully adjustable to fit different face shapes and sizes; easy to focus; light and comfortable for patients to wear; completely light-tight; and able to switch quickly from vision-denied to with-vision. The product needed to be of medical standard, including having less cavities and being compatible with standard patient hygiene pathways. For marketing purposes, it had to have a medical look and feel.

Design for Additive Manufacturing (DFAM) formed an important part of this phase. Initial designs with Cobalt were based upon the previous, incomplete design by View7, with attention to parameters and noted issues.

Additive manufacture expedited development and added considerable flexibility to the design.

The MJF process was an efficient way to produce high-quality prototypes. Using the MJF process, Vesticam could access prototypes and test them real time. The MJF process also allowed Vesticam to show prototype versions to other team members and customers for feedback about the design concept without undermining their overall opinion regarding the quality of the parts.

Final design is yet to be completed and will culminate with a short manufacturing run to produce 5-6 working modules for extended testing. This phase will focus on refinement of the product and preparation for mass production. This will be undertaken after completion of the testing/evaluation process and will include feedback from the key stake holders/potential customers.

Additive manufacturing will provide a cost-effective low volume manufacture approach that is suited to Vesticam’s assembly set up. MJF suits Vesticam’s current funding arrangements, allowing a staged approach to release of a high-volume product at a future point in time. It will also support the feedback loop required for a certified medical device. Selection and engagement of a manufacturing partner will be an important part of this phase and has already been partially supported by Cobalt.

How the Additive Manufacturing Hub helped

It was predicated that the project would make full use of the $20,000 Build It Better (BIB) voucher co contribution via the Additive Manufacturing Hub. The estimated breakdown amounts for this project were:

  • $33,500 to Cobalt Design ($16,750 to be contributed by BIB voucher)
  • $12,000 to GoProto ($3,250 to be contributed by BIB voucher)

By the end of May 2021, a total of $43,033 (ex GST) has been spent with the two registered providers. Of this amount, $20,000 was contributed by the BIB voucher and the remaining $23,033 was paid by Vesticam Pty Ltd. As of 30 May 2021, the breakdowns per RSP were:

  • Cobalt Design: $38 408
  • GoProto: $4 624

The cost of Cobalt’s services was higher than expected because of increased complexity as the project scope evolved during the development, and as extra prototypes and reviews were required.

The outcome

Over the course of this project, using additive manufacturing allowed Vesticam to easily make changes to design and innovate without disruption to deadlines. Final product weights were minimised, reducing logistics costs and emissions into the future.

Since MJF technology is available and affordable in Victoria, Vesticam was able to keep more of its production in Australia than if injection molding was used. This has created more opportunity for the local economy, reduced emissions from freighting products back and forth with international partners, and importantly, allowed much faster experimentation. It is assumed that completion of this project will have reduced time to market.

Support for local business and employment has been increased by keeping the prototyping and ultimately the manufacturing and assembly in Victoria. As stated, Vesticam is planning to use the MJF additive processes employed in this project on an ongoing basis, and anticipates doubling business growth in the next 12 months.

According to Philip Wilson, the V2 project manager from Vesticam: “The Build it Better program gave the perfect opportunity to take advantage of MJF printing technology. The program meant that a small medtech startup like Vesticam could employ quality designers, and experiment with and ultimately create a high-quality base for our medical device. The additive manufacturing capabilities available in Victoria today enabled us to develop of a superior product in the short timeframe we needed.”

The AM Hub is an initiative delivered by AMTIL in partnership with the Victorian State Government to promote the adoption of additive manufacturing technology.

For more information, please contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666 or email

Additive Manufacturing Hub case study: Radetec Diagnostics

With assistance from the Additive Manufacturing Hub at AMTIL, Melbourne-based Radetec Diagnostics developed an innovative device to facilitate fast and inexpensive testing of various infectious diseases – including COVID-19.

Radetec Diagnostics is a Melbourne-based biotechnology company dedicated to developing a world-leading “platform technology” based on quantum dots – advanced luminescent nanoparticles that can be used as labels for imaging and sensing applications. This has a wide range of clinical applications, particularly in the field of point-of-care rapid diagnostics, portable in-vitro diagnostic (IVDs) devices that are used for fast and inexpensive testing of various infectious diseases such as COVID-19, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or even cancer and Parkinson’s’ disease biomarkers.

Radetec’s IVD product range consist of point-of-care test strips, and an electronic reader that is able to generate quantifiable readings in the diagnostic process. The test strips are based on a lateral flow assay test methodology, where a reagent deposited on the test strip generates a reaction to a targeted biomarker. In this case, this reaction creates a visible florescence response in the reagent when illuminated with a UV light source.

The project entails the design and manufacture of such a reader to initially assist with the manufacture of the test strips, and later form a complete set of rapid diagnostic products for clinical use.

The challenge

The aim of this project was to develop a multipurpose benchtop reader device that would facilitate the analysis of the point-of-care test strips and other type of samples. During the analysis process, the test strips are illuminated with a UV light source, while being shielded from ambient light. A camera is used to capture the response and allow further analysis within dedicated software

The major challenge for this project was the integration of the main elements of the reader that generated results that were of sufficient accuracy and repeatability. This required successful integration of mechanical hardware design, electronics and software, all of which must work seamlessly to create a device that is intuitive and easy to use for the operator.

The reader has also been designed to offer flexibility in set-up – to allow analysis of a variety of sample types and sizes. It was identified early that offering the ability to analyse samples from a single test strip through to a standard 96-sample well plate would provide a significant benefit for the product over competitor offerings. This demanded more from the camera module, and specifically the relationship of physical position and lens selection.

Time to market was also identified as a major challenge, and this was a major reason why additive manufacturing was selected as a key part of early stage development.

The solution

A first proof of concept of the reader was developed with the help of Professor Dane McCamey (UNSW Sydney and ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science). Cobalt Design was then engaged to improve the design and the sensitivity of the device, as well as manufacturing a series of benchtop reader prototypes to allow extended testing and evaluation of this new device platform. An initial benchtop system prototype was created using an FDM-printed prototype that allowed for variation of position of key elements such as the camera.

This prototype included mounting points for each of the electronics components and an OEM USB camera, and allowed for initial function testing of key elements including:

  • Sample illumination – both with UV and white light sources.
  • Light tightness of the enclosure.
  • Camera optics selection.
  • Camera positioning.
  • OEM hardware including USB camera.
  • Electronics – LED and camera power, communication to control software.
  • Software development – including camera control, lighting control, image capture and image analysis.

This test unit was a critical step in the development process and allowed a number technical risks to be addressed, while also identifying areas for further optimisation and improvement. Filtering of the LED light sources was identified as a definite requirement for the product, which led to a change to the LED configuration along with a hardware change. The test unit was also critical in fast-tracking software development as it provided a working device to test and debug the custom software that was being developed concurrently with the hardware.

After a series of design optimisations, a second round of working prototypes were manufactured and delivered to Radetec to allow extended testing and analysis. Five working units were manufactured using FDM printing, and along with functional changes to improve performance, a number of additional features were included for better integration of components, protection and isolation of the fragile electronics, and improved industrial design.

How the Additive Manufacturing Hub helped

It was predicated that the project would make full use of a $20,000 Build It Better (BIB) voucher co contribution via the Additive Manufacturing Hub. The estimated breakdown amounts for this project were $60,000 to Cobalt Design, with $20,000 to be contributed bia BIB voucher.

In the end, a total of $46,047.60 (ex GST) was spent with two registered providers: Cobalt Design ($44,697.35); and GoProto ($1,350.25). Of this amount, $20,000 was contributed by the BIB voucher and the remaining $26,047.60 was paid by Radetec Diagnostics.

According to Dr John Li, CEO of Radetec Diagnostics: “The Build it Better program allowed Radetec Diagnostics to design, experiment with and ultimately create a sensitive, multipurpose reader that is easy to use and can be utilised to quantify the fluorescence from a variety of solid and liquid substrates. The additive manufacturing capabilities available in Victoria today enabled a rapid development of a superior benchtop system ideal for R&D and medical applications.”

The outcome

The project allowed Radetec to develop the reader just in time for the roll-out of its first product – a COVID-19 antigen point-of-care rapid test. It allowed for a timely delivery of the entire set of diagnostics devices (reader + test strip) to US-based distribution partners for immediate live trial and evaluation. The roll-out of the COVID-10 test was time-critical – the earlier the better.

Another significant outcome from the project is that Radetec has accumulated experience in designing and building a “platform technology reader” that can be used in Radetec’s subsequent products – such as STI tests, cancer biomarker tests, or Parkinson’s disease tests. The reader will only require relatively minor modifications to apply to tests on other diseases.

The AM Hub is an initiative delivered by AMTIL in partnership with the Victorian State Government to 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 case study: Kesem Health

Melbourne-based digital health company Kesem Health sought assistance from AMTIL’s Additive Manufacturing Hub in the development of the iUFlow urinary monitoring device.

Kesem Health develops and commercialises a digital health medical device and develops artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled solutions in the field of urology. Current methods of assessing patients with urinary dysfunction are time-consuming, expensive, and space-intensive. The current standard of care compromises clinical outcomes and increases the costs associated with diagnosing urinary dysfunction.

The solution is the iUFlow, a novel, patented, fully automated, and easy to use bladder monitoring device, implemented on a smartphone platform. The iUFlow device is designed and priced to be used over a period of 48-96 hours as required by the patient’s urologist.

The challenge

The project entailed the design and manufacturing of multiple components to further tune the design of iUFlow, utilising additive manufacturing principals of multiple parts of the iUFlow product. This is due to the complexity of the design, which is difficult to achieve by going directly to injection moulding. In addition, the costs and processes involved with a typical injection moulding set-up presented a significant barrier to entry. Therefore, it was deemed risky, as well as expensive and slow, to move directly to an injection moulding set-up without first exploring how the physical product might look and feel.

The solution

In undertaking the project, the Additive Manufacturing Hub engaged the assistance of a registered service provider, X-Product Pty Ltd, an additive manufacturing provider using 3D SLA printing techniques. This was identified as an excellent way to mitigate many of the above concerns.

Kesem Health believed that using additive manufacturing it would be able to reduce the design cycle and therefore reduce the time to market. The project allowance was up to three iterations of several parts, with the final aim of having these products ready to be manufactured at production quality, using advance manufacturing and/or additive manufacturing techniques. It would also enable Kesem to conduct small-scale manufacturing utilising the technology for parts supply without committing to expensive tools.

During the project, X-Product supplied prototypes, built the prototype units, assisted with testing, measuring and iterations. In addition, manufacturing of the product took place, entailing hundreds of parts.

Once the initial design was completed, the first prototypes were complete the following day after an overnight 3D printing run. This rapid process allowed Kesem to iterate the concept multiple times in a short period and make key decisions related to size, features and aesthetics. Drastic changes could be realised because it was quick and cheap to simply try again with a alternative design.

How the Additive Manufacturing Hub helped

It was predicated that the project would make full use of a $20,000 Build It Better (BIB) voucher co-contribution via the Additive Manufacturing Hub. Gil Hidas, Managing Director of Kesem Health, commented: “The BIB program gave us the perfect opportunity to further explore 3D printing for prototyping and utilising additive technology for manufacturing.”

The outcome

Over the course of the project, new features and tunning could easily be added and adjusted. It would not have been possible to produce these in a plastic mould as a single part and for the cost and in the time of iteration. The additive process that Kesem used for prototyping allowed it to conduct those experiments easily. Therefore, new features were added to the concept and made their way through to the final product, resulting in an improved design.

As a result of the project, Kesem will be being using the additive processes employed in the near future and on an ongoing basis, in addition to using it in small-scale manufacturing. The company is also postponing its investment in injection moulding tooling.

The AM Hub is an initiative delivered by AMTIL in partnership with the Victorian State Government to promote the adoption of additive manufacturing technology.

For more information, please contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666 or email

Additive Manufacturing Hub case study: Bodd Technology

Bodd Technology worked with AMTIL’s Additive Manufacturing Hub in the development of its innovative 3D body scanning and printing technology.

Bodd Technology is a 3D body scanning and data business founded in 2013. The intellectual property (IP) for its technology is owned by Bodd and has been developed with leading Australian academic institutions including UTS and RMIT University. Bodd’s hardware prototyping of both 3D scanners and 3D printers, and now commercial manufacture, is conducted through a partnership with Bosch Australia, based in Clayton, Victoria.

In its first application of the technology, Bodd has developed a suite of proprietary ‘fit’ technologies for the $2.4 trillion apparel industry. In addition to apparel, Bodd will enter multiple other verticals that also value and use data around body shape and size.

Bodd recently signed both a major South-East Asian apparel brand and a major Australian uniform producer, and has also secured a distribution partnership for the US and Europe. Bodd has a strong revenue pipeline with 17 additional Australian merchants ready to begin trials of the new technology.

The challenge

Bodd sough to develop technology that can quickly capture the sizing and exact 3D body curvature using a portable and/or fixed unit. The exact body shape is required both for size matching and the creation of more complex custom clothing.

As an extension to this, 3D printing of a person’s mannequin at the point of manufacture allows for perfect custom clothing without contact with the customer. It enables global customer scaling and perfect fitting clothing, with no returns. The 3D printing technology combines Bodd’s own IP both in the hardware and software processes. The Additive Manufacturing Hub directly supported Bodd’s 3D printing hardware development.

The 3D scanners needed to be high-tech and portable, yet robust enough to operate seven days a week within a retail location. The scanners were required to provide high-end 3D human data for the 3D printers.

The 3D printers would require rapid printing capability, using a lightweight, recyclable material cheaply. The priorities were speed, quality, cost and no environmental impact. As the printers were intended for factory use, safety was also critical in the design. The IP combines both hardware and custom software.

The solution

The Additive Manufacturing Hub directly supported Bodd, taking the internally developed 3D printer prototypes to Bosch, who worked with Bodd to create the first commercial units for customer trials.

The units created went through months of trials and testing prior to being approved for customer trials. As this technology is both new to market and manufacture, the process of commercialisation had to include internal stress testing, and then customer application and ROI. Shipped in December 2020, the final commercial customer prototypes had gone through multiple parts and engineering adjustments.

The resulting customer trials will also result in additional refinement of the main production units for late 2021 shipping.

How The Additive Manufacturing Hub helped?

Funding of $20,000 was provided, with all of it allocated against Bosch. Bodd’s expenditure both on engineering and prototype manufacture exceeded $150,000.

The outcome

Both retail and uniform customers completed highly successful trials, resulting in the first commercial orders being placed in April/May 2021. Bodd has a significant amount of interested companies in the pipeline, and is also exploring representation of the technology in both Europe and the USA.

The AM Hub is an initiative delivered by AMTIL in partnership with the Victorian State Government to promote the adoption of additive manufacturing technology.

For more information, please contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666 or email

Additive Manufacturing Hub case study: 3DM Surface Finishing

3DM Surface Finishing has developed a new polishing technology for metal 3D printed parts, with assistance from AMTIL’s Additive Manufacturing Hub (AM Hub).

Based in Port Melbourne, 3DM has been at the forefront of metal surface finishing technology for more than 25 years, with international sales based on patented technologies. Its new technology, based on electro polishing, overcomes historical limitations to achieve surface finishes of less than 4 Ra surface roughness in under five minutes – delivering outcomes that previously took 30 to 60 minutes. This new technology enables surface smoothing to be shape-sensitive, predictable and controllable like never before.

The challenge

Metal 3D printing has enabled the design freedom and mechanical optimisation of parts never seen before. When using laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) technology, the surface finish is an intrinsic part of the design requirement; this is particularly the case in medical applications, where it can help to prevent bacteria growth, enable bone osseointegration, provide corrosion resistance, optimal fluidics or mechanical strength.

Surface finishing technologies to date have largely been ‘adapted’ from traditional machining industries, and not readily transferrable to the complex geometries and selective surface requirements of metal 3D printing. Most frustratingly, parts spend up to four times longer in post-processing than the time it took to print them.

3DM needed to overcome the inherent challenges of electro-polishing in the context of metal 3D printing, while providing surface finish control and significant time savings.

The solution

3DM needed to combine its extensive experience of electro polishing with the most recent knowledge in LPBF, so the expertise available at Amiga Engineering and CSIRO’s Lab 22 facility was co-ordinated through the Additive Manufacturing Hub.

The project required a combination of expertise covering electro-polishing, materials science and LPBF part printing to understand the competing constraints, yet still remain focused on the goal of time savings and surface finish control. New metal and alloy combinations available to LPBF but not common in traditional machining required new knowledge to be built and applied to the advanced ‘electro-ablation’ technique.

3DM is now optimising its advanced electro-ablation technique for common metal 3D printing materials and surface contours.

How the Additive Manufacturing Hub helped

Lab 22 provided the valuable materials science insights relevant to metal 3D printing using the LPBF process. Amiga Engineering printed parts using the specified materials for 3DM to undertake iterative development and optimisation.

The AM Hub’s Build it Better voucher program enabled deep knowledge domains to collaborate and share insights, ultimately ensuring the rapid acceleration of product development for commercial benefit. The metal 3D printing sector is growing rapidly and requires a diverse knowledge base to translate great science into commercial impacts.

The outcome

The project enabled the cross-fertilisation of knowledge not readily transferred in industry. The primary goal of rapidly reducing the surface finishing time was achieved, in some cases up to 90%. This is of primary interest to industry, as it immediately translates to productivity and competitiveness. An additional benefit of the project was the unforeseen importance of printing strategies, specifically the influence it has on the ‘as printed’ surface finish and part density, as both these factors contribute to the polishing outcome.  3DM Surface Finishing have now included these insights into the product, optimising the benefits of electro-ablation of 3D metal parts for both manual and automated processes.

The AM Hub is an initiative delivered by AMTIL in partnership with the Victorian State Government to promote the adoption of additive manufacturing technology. For more information, please contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666 or email

New Forge Engineering: Forging ahead

A trip to a well-attended SolidWorks/Markforged event in Perth in 2019 identified a yawning gap in the local market that New Forge Engineering has moved fast to fill. By Brent Ballinski.

Michael Tuckey, now New Forge’s Technical Director, headed to the seminar, keen to learn more about what was on offer from the fast-growing US manufacturer of 3D printing technology.

“Mike went down to the event as he’d been looking at 3D printers and what was in industry,” recalls Andrew Day, Managing Director and Founder of New Forge. “The main questions that were being asked from people in Perth – about 150 of whom attended this seminar – was ‘Do they offer Markforged as a service?’ They could see the quality of the parts being produced on the Markforged machines. And the answer was ‘No’.”

A case became clear for the company, which is separate from but has its origins in Caldertech Australia, a company that specialises in high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipework solutions. Michael and Andrew both worked at the UK-based Caldertech’s local subsidiary, which Andrew purchased in 2019. They imported UK-made products but found some had to be redesigned or adapted for Australian customers in the water and oil & gas sectors, and the company had adopted 3D printing to achieve this end.

“We were looking at redesigning tools and manufacturing custom tools for the HDPE industry, and to bring manufacturing back to Australia,” explains Andrew. “The two companies really do complement each other and deliver innovative products.”

New Forge’s core business is to offer an in-demand bureau service out of Malaga, with a collection of machines able to print in polymer, composite and metals. It was established in 2019, and in an interesting bit of timing, was officially launched in March 2020 – the month the COVID-19 pandemic really began to have an impact.

Reflected in a series of positive results in the Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index (Australian PMI) beginning in October last year, Andrew says there’s been a definite uptick in business from manufacturing clients. Where R&D projects were put on hold, they are now back on the boil.

“Since January things have really ramped up,” Andrew observes. “So those projects that we were talking about, most of them have come to fruition. We are hearing people say we want to reshore and secure our supply chain by bringing manufacturing back into Australia.

“Quite a few people are saying this, but is it happening as yet? I’m not sure … I still feel that there’s a lot of work to do to get the cost right for people to take advantage of a local supply chain and not look overseas. I believe we’re on the right track to do this”

Building a bank

As a new bureau service will, New Forge has grown a collection of 3D printers, as well as associated services such as 3D scanning, reverse engineering, product design and prototyping, welding and CNC machining. The company’s collection of printers that can work in composites stands at ten units, by Andrew’s count, including Markforged printers, three Onyx One, a MarkTwo fused filament fabrication (FFF) machine, desktop-sized printers and two X7 machines (designed for industrial-scale use).

Marforged’s Onyx feedstock (nylon with chopped carbon fibre reinforcement) gets the most use of any filament type. When more strength is needed, New Forge customers look to continuous fibre reinforcement of a printed part. “Which, as a service is fantastic,” Andrew adds. “Because we can throw a file into Eiger, a quick check to make sure it’s printable, then we can just press print.”

Founded in 2013, Markforged announced an agreement this February that will see the Massachusetts-based company listed on the NYSE and valued at over US$2bn. Andrew speaks enthusiastically about the Markforged ecosystem’s reliability, noting that the range of ground covered by customers is vast.

“We’ve printed some amazing jobs so far,” says Andrew. “A satellite-looking part using continuous carbon fibre, moulds for plastic and rubber materials. We’ve printed a custom tool for a company that carries out service work on mining equipment. We’ve printed parts for a saw mill to help move large slabs of timber on top of benches to helping school students with their class projects.

“This is the breadth of industries that can benefit from additive manufacturing, and what we’re seeing come through for 3D printing and its uses. The custom tool was for a guy who couldn’t get to tension one of the belts on an engine. He only had a very small, narrow gap for access and a normal wrench was awkward to use, and a potential health and safety risk. So we made a bespoke tool for him of continuous carbon fibre, only 10mm thick, 400mm long, and it proved very useful and a great solution.”

Andrew’s company recently added a Markforged Metal X printer to its array. The vendor describes the machine as a cross between FFF printing and metal injection moulding, as well as being much more simple and affordable than metal printing methods such as selective laser sintering.

A job is designed and sliced as usual, then additively manufactured out of filament made of metal powders mixed with a binder, washed, then sintered, with the final parts having a density of up to 99.7%. Metal options include copper, inconel, stainless steel and tool steels.

New Forge has a Sinter 1 and Sinter 2, with the first designed for one-off parts and the second for higher throughput. Parts shrink by about 20% after sintering, and generally come out within the required tolerances.

“If you need a precision bearing fit, or some really fine tolerances, you’re going to have to post-machine the part in those areas,” Andrew explains. “For us to have the Metal X machine printing in the back of my office behind a partitioned wall, and tell visitors ‘That’s the metal machine, printing in 17-4PH stainless steel right now’, It’s crazy to see, because everyone just imagines the large cabinets, the powders and people fully suited up and wearing respirators.”

Looking to Lloyd’s

More recently, New Forge has invested in FFF printers by Intamsys, a specialist in high-temperature engineering thermoplastics for 3D printing, such as highly heat and chemical-resistant PEEK, which is used as a metal replacement in prototype and end-use parts. Intamsys (whose machines New Forge also distributes in Australia) has called itself the “under the radar champion” of the PEEK printing niche.

“What we’d been asked for were other materials: your ABS, your polycarbonates, and we looked at what else is out there that could be printed?” Andrew says. “And the one thing that kept coming up was PEEK.

“PEEK material is historically expensive, with a lot of wastage in traditional manufacturing. We wanted to add onto our high quality portfolio and expand our capabilities. We then had another search around and found the Intamsys machines. With these machines and their capabilities alongside the Markforged machines, we’ve pretty much got FDM (fused deposition modelling) covered. We’ve got high-grade engineering plastics, and we’ve got high-strength, high-quality parts on the Markforged machines. As well as the Metal X.”

After covering all this ground, Andrew believes the next logical step is to focus on standards. New Forge had been in discussion with Lloyd’s Register about certification before a private event showcasing Australian metal additive manufacturing companies to a collection of resources firms in Perth. The meet-up just drove the point home.

“From the seminar, the majority of the questions from the audience were ‘How do you certify parts?’, ‘What standards are your parts made to?’ ‘How do you ensure part quality?’,” Andrew remembers. “So we now know we’re on the right track. We need to get that certification, which is then going to increase customer confidence and enable them to look deeper into additive manufacturing for their businesses.”

Another of the local additive manufacturing companies at the event was AML3D, which became the first company to get a wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) facility certified by Lloyd’s Register in 2018. With a target market in sectors including defence, marine and oil & gas, the WAAM machine manufacturer and bureau made certification a focus.

New Forge is currently working towards ISO 9001 certification, as well as racing to follow in AML3D’s footsteps and achieve a world-first facility certification from Lloyd’s, but this time for binder jet AM methods.

“The main focus for the year is on certification” explains Andrew. “They will look at the complete workflow from jobs coming in, how we deal with data, all the way through to the machines themselves and then the inspection at the backend. What are we testing? How are we testing it? What are we measuring it with?”

As New Forge looks to the future, it can only see things moving in a positive direction. With expansion plans in place for Brisbane, the company is well on track to becoming the largest Markforged print farm in Australia.