Aurora Labs has wrapped up a trial project that tested the company’s 3D metal printing technology’s ability to “print” stainless steel components for the construction of Australian Navy frigates. Aurora says the trial, under a collaboration with Australian defence contractor, BAE Systems Maritime Australia, has returned positive outcomes in terms of part quality, dimensional accuracy and build rate.
Aurora Labs has wrapped up a trial project that tested the company’s 3D metal printing technology’s ability to “print” stainless steel components for the construction of Australian Navy frigates. Aurora says the trial, under a collaboration with Australian defence contractor BAE Systems Maritime Australia, has returned positive outcomes in terms of part quality, dimensional accuracy and build rate.
Aurora sees the collaboration with BAE as a focal step in its efforts to commercialise its innovative 3D metal printing technology.
The printed parts and a detailed corresponding print report have now been delivered to BAE for evaluation.
Management says an internal review of the printed parts manufactured on the company’s flagship RMP-1 Beta prototype printer, has delivered positive findings and supplied the company with key data it can use to advance its unique high-powered 3D printing technology.
Aurora Labs Chief Executive Officer, Peter Snowsill said:“Understanding and meeting customer requirements is key to providing A3D technology and driving our commercialisation strategy. We are becoming more efficient at analysing the function of parts, setting parameters and employing techniques to obtain these outcomes using A3D’s high power printing. This project has been very beneficial to our learning in that respect and we are really pleased with the outcomes.”
Aurora’s RMP-1 prototype printer, utilising “powder bed fusion” technology, is pivotal to the company’s ambitions of creating industrial grade, high productivity and high accuracy 3D metal printers that compete with traditional metal manufacturing and wholesaling on a cost-effectiveness basis.
BAE has been constructing surface naval vessels for the Royal Australian Navy for about a decade. It is currently responsible for the design and build of nine frigates for the Hunter Classic Frigate program - the largest surface ship project in the history of Australia’s defence force, according to BAE.
It says the Hunter program is set to transform Australia’s shipbuilding industry by moving it towards a sovereign naval shipbuilding capability. Prototyping has already commenced with construction of the first ship planned for next year.
The multi-mission frigates are set to support anti-submarine warfare, air defence and general-purpose operations around the globe, including humanitarian and disaster relief campaigns.
BAE’s research and technology arm has been investigating the potential for future adoption of large-scale 3D metal printing of spare parts for the Hunter program. It has identified Aurora as a prospective supplier of powder bed fusion laser technology for printing of the parts.
Aurora could be onto a winner if its 3D printing technology proves effective in producing spare parts for the Australian Navy whose fleet requires regular maintenance on the spot whilst at sea.
The opportunity of making, or 3D “printing” a spare part on the spot, thousands of kilometres out to sea must be tantalising for an organization like the Navy who would otherwise have to pull into a port or put the chopper in the air to secure a critical item.
No doubt it is even more tantalising for the $24m market capped Aurora labs.
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