Australian Additive Manufacturing links with Germany

At the heart of Industry 4.0 are platform technologies such as Additive Manufacturing (AM). Leading organisations have identified this and are utilising the unique characteristics offered by AM to achieve competitive advantage in both product performance and innovation speed. The remaining majority now risk falling behind, as they struggle to match AM driven advances, due to a lack of internal curiosity, innovation capability and a subsequent inability to integrate AM into existing processes.

To overcome this hurdle, organisations must look to leaders in AM to guide them towards the horizon. Through their AM consulting arm, Conflux Technology audits an organisation’s current product offerings and development capabilities and crucially identifies short, medium and long-term value opportunities through the adoption of AM. There are inherent business model implications with AM and taming an organisation’s expectations is just the first step. Conflux Technology works with customers through pain-point identification, solution ideation, concept development and selection, engineering design and simulation, prototype production and validation testing. The demonstration of low-volume serial production is carried out by Conflux Technology prior to a process of knowledge transfer and AM capacity building within an organisation’s existing supply chain. This reduces technology adoption risk and addresses a vital capability gap, thus allowing organisations to realise AM’s potential.

The Conflux CoreTM heat exchanger is an example of what is achievable. Leveraging the geometric freedoms of AM, structural efficiencies have been achieved whilst a high surface area density, combined with optimised fluid pathways, produces a high thermal exchange, low-weight, low-pressure drop-heat exchanger. The performance advantages were achieved within a rapid development timeline and with a minimum of prototype iterations. With no tooling implications to consider, multiple variants can be manufactured simultaneously. This AM implementation is just one example of a rapidly expanding market, that is seizing the numerous advantages of AM led product development, such as dramatically improved design freedom, iteration speed and efficiency.

The increased geometric complexity, achievable by way of AM, creates numerous opportunities for advancements in product performance. These complexities are achieved whilst simultaneously reducing part count with hybrid-function designs, and with that, locations of potential failure. The downstream opportunities are not limited to procurement optimisation, service streamlining and decentralised, near-point-of-use production. This unlocks resources which can be aimed towards expanding an organisations capability, increasing risk-appetite, fostering creativity and ultimately accelerating rates of advancement.

Conflux Technology was established in Australia due to the founder, Michael Fuller, growing up in Melbourne. Having worked closely with and for German organisations in the past, Michael knew that the leaders in metal AM were based in Krailling, Munich. EOS GmbH and sister company AM Ventures are the pioneers of metal AM technology, materials and ecosystem development. AMVentures have made an investment in Conflux Technology who now have the backing of the world’s leading metal AM technology group.

Conflux Technology has also developed a strong strategic partnership network in Australia. A close association with the CSIRO (www.csiro.au) has seen the Conflux CoreTM mathematically modelled using CSIRO’s significant Computational Fluid Dynamics capabilities and the opportunity to commercialise AM specific applications together. Deakin University has supported Conflux Technology through the ‘valley-of-death’ startup phase, giving access to offices, workshop facilities and now are planning joint AM materials R&D.

One of the limits-to-growth for industrial AM has been identified as a lack of skilled and experienced people. Conflux Technology is working on an education program to accelerate the development of the next generation of AM engineers. Whilst currently in development, this program will focus specifically on AM, providing post graduate engineers with the opportunity to specialise in this rapidly expanding field.

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