High tech manufacturing to help industry protect military

A new ‘technology demonstrator’ has been launched at the University of Wollongong will allow New South Wales industry to assess the latest manufacturing technology for adoption in the Defence supply chain.

The NSW node of the Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) was officially launched by the CEO of the DMTC, Dr Mark Hodge.

DMTC is a joint venture between Defence, industry, universities and government research agencies whose NSW node is supported by the NSW Government. NSW Government funding has enabled a technology demonstrator – the Lean Automation and Fabrication Facility – to be built at UOW for use by DMTC’s partners, including the University of Wollongong, BlueScope Steel, ANSTO, Bisalloy and several NSW Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Dr Hodge said the NSW node would assist NSW SMEs to participate in global defence supply chains in partnership with, or independently of, the leading prime contractors to the Australian Defence Force.

Professor John Norrish, Professor of Materials Welding and Joining at UOW and a Director of DMTC said the new technology demonstrator went a long way to furthering this goal.

“Many of the capabilities of the Lean Automation and Fabrication Facility involve advanced equipment which is not available elsewhere in NSW,” he said.

As part of their involvement in major research programs in Armour Applications and Maritime Platforms, DMTC’s NSW researchers are investigating more productive manufacturing processes for land-based vehicles and marine platforms.

This includes research into how the protective aspects of armoured personnel carriers made by Thales Australia can be maintained or improved while ensuring manufacturing processes are cost effective and competitive with potential imports.

“While the existing vehicle has been very successful in preventing injury and fatalities in the field, DMTC is committed to working with Thales, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation and its other partners to ensure this safety record is maintained and Australian Defence personnel are adequately protected,” Professor Norrish said.

“It is also important to maximise Australian content in defence platforms to support employment and capability. In this case, the supply chain for these vehicles includes materials supplied by BlueScope Steel and Bisalloy in the Illawarra region.”

UOW’s role is to investigate potential armour material improvements and production process such as welding which play an important role in vehicle manufacture. ANSTO is contributing valuable expertise in modelling of armour damage to improve material performance characterisation.

DMTC’s NSW node is also undertaking a practical assessment of the impact of improved body armour on Defence personnel performance.

“UOW has a long association with defence industry in the assessment of the physiological demands on Defence personnel and in particular the effects of wearing body armour,” Professor Norrish said.

Facilities of the new technology demonstrator include:

• Three state-of-the-art, multi-purpose robots (one mounted on a linear track)

• Rapid tool changers (to convert the robot from component positioning to welding and machining operations)

• Advanced welding process capabilities including: Tandem Gas Metal Arc Welding, Cold Metal Transfer and Laser Hybrid Gas Metal Arc Welding

• Industry standard safety systems

About DMTC:

The Defence Materials Technology Centre is a technology development joint venture that develops new materials and manufacturing technologies for the Australian defence sector. It has activities in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia. DMTC is the Australian Government’s first Defence Future Capability Technology Centre.

Posted by DMTC on March 29th, 2010