Advanced manufacturing research at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus has been boosted by high-profile Federal Government funding.
Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO has welcomed the announcement of the recipients of the first round of grants from the Federal Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Fund.
Carbon Revolution and LeMond Composites each received $2.5 million to expand and develop their operations within the Geelong Future Economy Precinct at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus.
“As we all know, Geelong’s future is high-value, advanced manufacturing, which is why Deakin University welcomes this week’s $10.1 million Federal Government investment in the city’s continuing economic transformation,” Professor den Hollander said.
“Deakin is passionate about supporting the communities we serve, working collaboratively with industry and relevant business and governments to drive forward solutions to the challenges confronting our region.
“Our University has played a key role in finding these solutions, leveraging off our world-class research, infrastructure, and industry and government partnerships.”
Deakin’s award-winning Carbon Nexus centre was established at Waurn Ponds in 2014 as a globally-unique, cutting-edge research facility to conduct basic and industrial-scale research into carbon fibre production methods and composite manufacturing techniques.
Professor den Hollander said that, since then, Carbon Nexus had supported Geelong to establish itself as a world leader in carbon fibre research and manufacturing, supporting the development of a new, high-value manufacturing industry that is creating jobs for the region.
Earlier this year, a breakthrough in carbon fibre research at Carbon Nexus that will make the production of carbon fibre faster and less expensive led to a $58M agreement with LeMond Composites. The partnership allows LeMond Composites to license the new technology from Carbon Nexus.
Developed by Carbon Nexus PhD student Maxime Maghe and former General Manager Steve Atkiss, the technology centres around the optimisation of chemical production processes. It has the potential to reduce energy in carbon fibre production by 75 per cent and the production process time from around 80 minutes to under 15 minutes.
The specialised carbon fibre production machinery required is expected to cost about 50 per cent less than current equipment and allow a 70 per cent reduction in the size of a carbon fibre processing plant.
LeMond Composites is expected to use its Advanced Manufacturing Growth Fund funding to develop Australia’s first commercial carbon fibre manufacturing plant, which will produce commercial quantities of carbon fibre under license from Deakin and create dozens of jobs for the region.
Carbon Revolution, a multi-million dollar wheel manufacturer, has been nurtured from start-up by Deakin and all levels of government. Its founders include carbon fibre wheel innovators Dr Ashley Denmead (Engineering and Design Director) and CEO Jake Dingle.
Carbon Revolution produces the world’s first one-piece, carbon fibre composite wheels for supply to the global automotive and aerospace industries. Already employing over 120 people in its $24 million factory, the rapidly-growing company works closely with its research partners, including Carbon Nexus.
The company is now embarking on a major expansion. Already supplying Ford Motor Company in Detroit and with additional contracts with other manufacturers, it has signed an agreement with a North American aircraft landing gear manufacturer to develop carbon fibre wheels for use in aerospace.
It is currently extending its premises by around five times and expects to employ over 600 people and increase its production capacity from 10,000 carbon fibre wheels a year to more than 150,000 at Waurn Ponds by 2022.
“Carbon fibre development was a key project highlighted by the Geelong Economic Futures blueprint Deakin jointly developed with the City of Greater Geelong and G21” Professor den Hollander said.
“The Federal Government investment is a welcome show of support for this shared vision.
“For Geelong to secure 34 per cent of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Fund’s first round demonstrates the strength of this vision, and the work of the Member for Corangamite to advance the region’s plan in Canberra.”