$2.6m for research into 3D energetic materials

3D printer. Stock photo.

DefendTex will join forces with four research partners to develop new technology in additive manufacturing of energetic materials.

Led by DefendTex Pty Ltd, an Australian company specialising in the commercialisation of technology for the military and law enforcement markets, the research will involve expert collaborators from the Defence Science and Technology Group, RMIT University, Flinders University and England’s Cranfield University.

The Victoria-based defence R&D company has secured $2.6 million in Australian Government funding through a Cooperative Research Centre Program.

“Additive manufacturing is an emerging technology with great industrial potential in the field of 3D printed energetic materials such as explosives and propellant,” says DefendTex chief executive Travis Reddy.

“In addition to offering the prospect of significant performance gains, additive manufacturing of energetic materials has the potential to solve cost, safety and efficiency problems associated with traditional manufacturing methods which have remained unchanged for a generation,” he says.

Flinders University polymer chemistry expert Professor David Lewis says “the challenge of printing energetic materials that are thermally and/or shock sensitive requires novel materials and processing”.

“The ability to develop systems like this is the next generation of additive manufacturing and is the key to this technology becoming main stream,” says Professor Lewis, who is Director of Flinders Centre for NanoScale Science and Technology.

Professor Brandt, from RMIT University Centre for Additive Manufacturing, says the industrial potential in the field of 3D printed energetic materials “is only beginning to be realised”.

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is rising in importance globally in several industry sectors such as aerospace and biomedical but is only beginning to be realised in other sectors.

“This project aims to make major advancements in additive manufacturing of energetic materials by developing both technology and materials which will lead to wide application in civil, defence, construction and mining industries,” Professor Brandt says:

“Partnering with defence scientists from the DST Group and Cranfield University is critical in informing the research requirements associated with the project aims and in ensuring that the technology has the greatest chance of meeting defence needs,” says DefendTex CEO Mr Reddy.

“The project aims to develop a commercially viable process for 3D printing of energetic materials for use in the defence industry. However, this new technology will have wide application in civil, mining, oil and gas and construction industries.”

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne says additive manufacturing, or 3D printing of energetic materials such as explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics, “has the potential to transform their performance and also offer significant logistical and cost benefits in their manufacture”.

“This research could lead to the production of advanced weapons systems, which can be tailored for unique performance and purpose,” Minister Pyne says.

“It should also allow broader access and more efficient and environmentally friendly manufacturing opportunities to Australian industry providing significant cost savings and competitive advantage for Defence, and industries such as mining construction.”

The $2.6 million has been committed over two years through the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Program.

“These outcomes will have far-reaching civilian and Defence applications and contribute to the development of critical expertise in energetic manufacturing techniques in Australian industry,” Mr Pyne says, adding he looks forward to the research outcomes expected within three years.

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