Prime Minister Julia Gillard has praised RMIT University's $15 million Advanced Manufacturing Precinct.
he Advanced Manufacturing Precinct (AMP) brings together training, research and design in one location.
Advanced manufacturing is one of Australia's fastest growing export sectors, accounting for about half the nation's $104 billion annual manufacturing output.
"It's been fantastic to be here today and see advanced manufacturing at work and people getting the skills they need for the future economy," Ms Gillard said.
The Prime Minister was shown some of the latest in robotics and automated subtractive (cutting) manufacturing equipment.
She was particularly interested in the AMP's additive manufacturing (3D printing) capabilities.
The AMP houses one of Australia's only two metal 3D printing machines. The $1.2 million selective laser melting machines "print" fully functional parts direct from virtual 3D data.
A $500,000 fused deposition modelling machine enables 3D printing in thermoplastic materials.
RMIT Chancellor, Dr Ziggy Switkowski, toured the AMP beside the Prime Minister.
"We saw evidence of state-of-the-art technology and evidence of the partnerships we have with a whole range of industry," Dr Switkowski said.
"The best of technology and the brightest of people - it reflects really well on RMIT and gives confidence in the future of manufacturing."
RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, also welcomed Ms Gillard to the AMP.
"The precinct brings together students with researchers across the spectrum," she said.
"RMIT scoured the world. We have the best of equipment and wonderful staff, and great support from governments and from industry.
"That combination provides students and researchers with the best tools and possibilities to explore ways that we might build a future in manufacturing in Australia."
The AMP will complement research at the University's Design Hub when it opens later this year.
The precinct serves more than 2,000 students at vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate level across the Schools of Design TAFE, Engineering TAFE, Architecture and Design, Aerospace Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Current collaboration with industry includes research into surgical implants and other healthcare products such as hearing aids, as well as new developments in automotive products and technologies.T