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Opening the Vault

On Thursday the 31st of May Monash Tech School staff attended a guided tour of LAB 22 at the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Clayton. The evening, titled “Opening the Vault”, showcased the working environment of Lab 22 scientists and the variety of high tech equipment they work with on a day to day basis. A wide array of metallic 3D printing technologies and techniques were shown throughout the tour with expert explanations provided by the Lab 22 staff.

Dr Keith McLean (Director of CSIRO manufacturing) and Daniel East (Director of Lab 22) introduced the site to guests, detailing the work and responsibilities conducted by Lab 22. They explained the possible applications for Lab 22's 3D printing technology and detailed two successful devices developed at CSIRO, a sleep apnoea device and unique implants for cancer patients. Of special note was the Lab 22 participant agreement, a policy designed to allow individuals or companies to come on-site and use the technology available for commercial or personal use. This agreement seeks to allow small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop radical prototypes themselves without the risk of buying their own equipment.

From there, guests were introduced to the 3D printing machines themselves with a team of expert Lab 22 staff ready to explain their daily operations. The printers included:

  • A layer by layer printer that uses an electron laser beam to mould structures and allows for the development of devices previously too difficult to create through traditional moulds

  • A rapid alloy development tool that effectively welds particles to create new alloys

  • A cold spray printer that uses supersonic speed rather than heat to stick particles together and can print much quicker than layer by layer printing

  • A sand printer that removes the use of pattern designs for mould construction and is used for intricate designs including ‘rare spares’.

The evening was very insightful and certainly provided information pertinent to the Superpowers program currently running at Monash Tech School. We look forward to continuing our relationship with our partner CSIRO as we seek to deliver outstanding STEM education in Victoria.

written by Angus Todd

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