Water Journal : Current November 2017
www.awa.asn.au 30 supply or sanitation," Mohammed said. The School of Engineering research fellow also said 3D printing could ensure valuable aid supplies were not wasted in recovery operations at home and abroad. "Instead of sending aid, which may or may not fit the needs of the people on the ground, we could send a printer and materials that could be converted into whatever is needed until a more robust solution arrives," he said. GOING METAL Additive manufacturing with metals, on the other hand, offers better long-term solutions, but the capital outlay required has made it cost-prohibitive for the water industry. That is, until recently. CSIRO's Lab 22 has invested more than $6 million in additive manufacturing machines, many of which are the first of their kind in Australia, and all of which are available for Australian industry to use, CSIRO's Gulizia said. "Someone in the water industry can work with the Lab 22 innovation centre to design a part, they can be trained to use the equipment themselves, to build the part, put it into service and monitor its performance," he said. "That's all before deciding to actually go out and buy a piece of equipment themselves; it's low risk." Within the water industry, Gulizia sees additive manufacturing as an opportunity to extend the lifespan of infrastructure. "Anything that's in contact with water and fouls due to corrosion can be redesigned," Gulizia said. "Titanium is very expensive to manufacture using traditional technology, but with 3D printing it's not out of the question to build a whole valve set in corrosion-resistant titanium for the water industry. "There's also coating technology -- using our cold-spray or laser technologies -- that can be applied to 3D printed parts to make them even more useful and high-wearing," Gulizia said. NOT TOO FAST With both polymer and metal printers, the size and resolution of the final product is limited by the size and resolution of the printer. But Gulizia noted barriers were already falling away. "Machines are getting larger -- we demonstrated that we could manufacture a jet engine entirely from 3D printing technology and we could make it lighter, too, by unitising parts," he said. "The whole value chain is moving so quickly that it's even made the machines we have in our lab outdated already, and some of those are only a couple of years old." Another constraint is the time that it takes to make an individual part, Mohammed said. "If you look at injection moulding you could make a part within a matter of seconds or minutes. With 3D printing for like-for-like parts, say a typical-sized water connector, you'd be looking at a few hours to make that one part," he said. There are also concerns about the structural integrity of products that are made using layer-by-layer building techniques. "It's inherently non-continuous as opposed to what you'd find in injection moulded parts," said Mohammed. BEFORE A PART CAN BE 3D PRINTED, A COMPUTER MODEL MUST BE CREATED. HOW IT WORKS 3D This is most commonly achieved using computer-aided design (CAD) software, a 3D scanner, or a digital camera and photogrammetry software. THE "INK" Additive manufacturing materials fall into three categories: Polymers: Including acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, nylon, photopolymer resins, polycarbonate and polylactide. Metals: Ferrous and non-ferrous metals, including steel, titanium and aluminium Ceramics: Including silica, porcelain and silicon-carbide.
Current August 2017