Short fibre technology gets boost with manufacturing partnership

Posted: 26/06/2015

An award-winning process to develop short fibre materials, such as water filters, face masks and advanced textiles, pioneered at Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM), will be developed further as part of a new manufacturing research partnership between industry and universities.

Deakin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Lee Astheimer said the recently-announced Innovative Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC) would ensure the project continued to evolve.

“This new CRC offers exciting opportunities for Deakin,” Professor Astheimer said.

“It follows on from the recent announcement that Deakin will receive ARC funding to become an Industrial Transformation Research Hub, and will allow us to support the growth of our valued partners and the broader community, particularly in the Geelong region.”

Professor Astheimer explained that the project would continue to develop high-value, short ultra-fine fibres for a range of end uses, as part of a recently formed joint venture between international partners.

The joint venture, known as HeiQ Australia Pty Ltd, involves Geelong-based biotechnology company, Cytomatrix Pty Ltd and Swiss high-tech textiles company HeiQ Materials.

HeiQ Australia Chief Executive Officer Dr Murray Height said the new joint venture aimed to build up a new manufacturing capability for the industrial production of high-value short fibre materials for the domestic and export markets.

HeiQ Australia and Cytomatrix are also partners in the new IMCRC, meaning they will be able to expand their work in short fibre materials, thanks to the added resources within the centre.

“HeiQ Australia will scale up and industrialise the process developed by Cytomatrix and the IFM/School of Engineering team, and will actively position novel short fibre materials in the global market for high-performance additive materials,” Dr Height said.

“We are excited about the announcement of the new Innovative Manufacturing CRC and welcome this opportunity to further strengthen our ongoing strategic research partnership with IFM to develop this technology, which has applications in fields such as biotechnology and filtration, as well as textiles.”

One of the other initial projects that will be supported by the CRC that will also involve Deakin concerns the development of titanium powder for additive manufacturing. This project will receive around $400,000 over seven years and Deakin’s involvement will be overseen by Professor Ying (Ian) Chen from the IFM. The project will be conducted in collaboration with Professor Ma Qian (RMIT), Chief Investigator, and partner Panzhihua Gangcheng Group Co Ltd.

The IMCRC will accelerate Australia’s transition into high-value, knowledge-based manufacturing.

It will receive $40m Commonwealth funding, plus $210m in matching funds from industry, research institutions and state governments, building on the success of the existing Advanced Manufacturing CRC.

Initial collaborators include:

  • 14 manufacturing companies;
  • 18 research institutes, including 16 Australian universities; and
  • Four peak industry bodies.
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