This week has seen the opening of a unique facility at Deakin University dedicated to advanced metal development and 3D roll forming. The $1.5 million IFM Flexible Forming Facility has been set up as part of Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM), supported a $280,000 grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC).
The new facility was opened formally at Deakin’s Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus by ARC Chief Executive Officer Professor Sue Thomas and Deakin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Joe Graffam.
The IFM Flexible Forming Facility features a dynamic 3D roll forming process developed, patented and manufactured by German research partner data M Sheet Metal Solutions. This process is applicable to high-performance materials such as ultra-high-strength steels, advanced aluminium alloys and metal laminates, enabling the development of exceptionally strong final products with applications in automotive, rail and aerospace industries.
Prof Graffam said the facility would be used for proof-of-concept studies on the flexible roll forming process, rapid prototyping and the manufacture of complex profiles from hard-to-form materials.
He said: “Deakin is committed to the advancement of ideas that make a difference to the communities we serve through research and innovation. This new facility will extend our critical mass of dedicated and high-calibre researchers breaking boundaries in next generation manufacturing, strengthening our leadership in the international area in this important field.”
Professor Thomas added: “I am pleased that Australian Research Council funding is supporting a rich ecosystem of manufacturing research expertise, a significant component of which is industry-led, at Deakin University.
“Quality research infrastructure is a critical component of Australia’s research and development system. With this in mind, the ARC’s LIEF scheme is designed to enable researchers to participate in cooperative initiatives so that expensive infrastructure, equipment and facilities can be shared between higher education organisations and industry.
“This funding has enabled Deakin University to leverage extensive support from an impressive array of collaborating industry partners to establish a research facility that promises to deliver major advances for Australian manufacturing of complex components for automotive, aerospace, truck and rail industries.”