Home' Know How : KnowHow Issue 4 Contents Structures (CRC-ACS). Scott
says this is because the Australian
industry is composed predominantly
of ‘agile’ small-to-medium enterprise
businesses, able to quickly explore
new market opportunities.
“Australia has a fantastic opportunity
to continue leadership in composites,
particularly their application in new
areas,” he says.
A notable achievement of
CRC-ACS has been developing
technology with Boeing Aerostructures
Australia, which manufactures the
wing trailing edge devices for the
Boeing 787 Dreamliner – work
worth an estimated $4 billion to the
Australian economy over 25 years.
One new area of focus is the
development of bio-composite
materials that use natural plant fibres
instead of glass. This allows for an
environmental impact reduction of
15–50%, says Dr Andrew Beehag,
CRC-ACS General Manager.
Over the short term, CRC-ACS
has focussed on developing
lower performance bio-composites
that can be used as wood and fibreglass
alternatives in the building and
construction industry. Researchers
have already developed a process to
manufacture composites made from
2 mm-long plant fibres. This, says
Beehag, represents a significant
improvement over the immediate
market competitor, which has only
achieved reinforced lengths of around
0.1 mm and a much weaker performance.
“Laboratory trials have shown that
a 30–40% increase in strength may be
achievable with our approach,” Beehag
says. And that would come with only
a 10% higher cost. This gives CRC-ACS
flexibility to develop a premium product
with increased performance, or to
achieve cost savings while maintaining
current performance standards.
Two companies are already trialling
these next generation building products.
24 KNOWHOW MAGAZINE
this grand challenge of high-rate
composite manufacturing and license
it to Australian industry, then those
Australian companies are in the box seat
to manufacture parts in high volume for
a burgeoning market,” says Dunstan.
High performance plastics offer
another option to reduce vehicle
weight and improve fuel efficiency in
the automotive and aviation industries.
The global market for injection-moulded
plastics is expected to reach about
$319 billion by 2020. The creation
of millions of plastic components for
transport and other industries begins
with a single mould. However,
developing moulds requires highly
specialised experts in the design stage
and many prototypes. This generates
waste and makes the process
time-consuming and expensive.
To solve this problem, the AutoCRC,
along with the Victorian Partnership
of Advanced Computing and the
Malaysia Automotive Institute, have
developed a new software toolkit known
as vMould. This software application
intelligently optimises mould design
and development. It eliminates the need
for specialists, allows for more accurate
component designs with fewer flaws –
meaning fewer prototypes and less waste
and improves overall production speed.
Based on the timing and success of
these trials, CRC-ACS and its spin-off
ACS Australia should be in a strong
position to accelerate commercialisation
activities, Beehag says.
Carbon to revitalise
LIGHTWEIGHT CARBON fibre
composites are becoming crucial to
automotive manufacturing around the
world as companies strive to reduce
vehicle weight. Reduced weight translates
into lower fuel consumption costs.
Australia already has one success
story with Carbon Revolution
a company that has developed
a one-piece carbon fibre wheel for
sports cars, which is 40–50% lighter
than aluminium alternatives.
But manufacturing carbon fibre
composites affordably, at the volume
needed to keep pace with automobile
production, poses a considerable
challenge. Dunstan says to be acceptable
to mainstream manufacturing, the
composites industry needs to show
that it can produce one part per minute
at a cost of about $14 per kilogram.
Once that challenge is met, he says,
the floodgates will open.
To address the problem of affordable
mass production, the AutoCRC is
supporting a project investigating
a novel epoxy resin system. It’s hoped
that tailored resins will be more adept
at achieving faster curing times,
ultimately increasing the rate of
production as required.
This work is taking place at Carbon
Nexus, a $34 million research and pilot
manufacturing facility in Geelong. It’s
been developed by Deakin University
in partnership with VCAMM, with
support from the Victorian and
“If we can create new, globally
relevant intellectual property at
Carbon Nexus that helps meet
story Carbon Revolution
has developed a
one-piece carbon fibre
wheel, which is 40–50%
lighter than aluminium
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