Manufacturing, Materials and Mechatronics Engineering

Our research provides industry with cutting-edge solutions for high performance, net-shaped products with increased functionality produced using the latest industrial automation technologies.

Research focus

Our research is focused on the following key areas.

Additive manufacturing and machining

Our research in additive manufacturing and machining covers design, materials and process aspects of additive manufacturing with particular focus on aerospace, biomaterials, defence and mining industries.

Current research projects include:

  • Manufacturing of biomedical implants and devices
  • Repair and re-manufacture of assets
  • Additive manufacturing of wear resistant steels and cast irons
  • Novel low-cost titanium alloys for additive manufacturing
  • Custom design of alloy structures for additive manufacturing for automotive, defence and orthopedic applications
  • New materials and alloy design for additive manufacturing
  • Signal processing and control for electrical discharge grinding
  • Development of 3D printable polymer matrix composites

Materials manufacturing and design

Our activities develop lightweight structural and functional materials and improve their processing for applications ranging from automotive to defence to construction industries. 

Current research projects include:

  • Cast magnesium alloys for automotive powertrains
  • Nucleation of intermetallic compounds in steel coatings
  • Energy harvesting using piezoelectric fibres
  • Circular micro-strip patch antenna strain sensor for wireless structural health monitoring
  • Durability, functionality assessment and repair of embedded systems in multi-functional composites

Mechatronics and control/autonomous systems

Our focus is on the development and deployment of autonomous (intelligent) systems for a wide range of navigation and inspection/monitoring applications.

In terms of navigation applications, our aim is to build the foundations required to develop intelligent safety warning systems for mobile industrial platforms. The system is to prevent mobile industrial platforms from striking/crushing pedestrians and other objects.

In terms of inspection/monitoring applications, the group is working with industry for development and deployment of intelligent systems for meat processing, construction and railway operation.

Current research projects include:

  • Automated visual inspection and preparation of live animals for meat processing
  • Multi-object estimation for live cell microscopy
  • Visual intelligence for safe vehicle operation in industrial environment
  • Crowd tracking and visual analytics for rapidly deployable imaging devices
  • Intelligent solutions for boxed beef trim export enhancement
  • Submarine dynamics and control  
  • Miniature crawling robots for inspection of railway engines and other assemblies
  • End-effector design and robot path planning for robotic surgery
  • Design of high-stiffness robots for machining 

Materials modelling and simulation

Our materials modelling and simulation research examines the fundamental relationships between the electronic and atomic structure and properties of molecules and materials to enable rational design of novel materials for industrial and biomedical applications.

Current research projects include:

  • Design of advanced multifunctional coatings, including biofouling resistant coatings
  • Design of nanomaterials for applications in biomedicine, including metal, oxide, polymer and carbon based nanoparticles and assemblies
  • Modelling the response of biomolecules to radiofrequency radiation employed in telecommunication technologies, including mobile phones
  • Modelling formation and inhibition of amyloid fibrils implicated in degenerative diseases
  • Modelling nanomaterial interactions with biological environments

Biomaterials engineering

Our biomaterials engineering research covers the design, and manufacture of novel biomaterials of titanium-, magnesium-, zinc-, iron-based alloys and their scaffolds, composites, polymers, and protein scaffolds, and assessment for artificial bones, stents, cell delivery, drug delivery, and cell-implant interactions in vitro and in vivo.

Examples of current research projects include:

  • Development of metallic orthopedic biomaterials
  • Additive manufacturing of metallic implants
  • Implant tissue interactions
  • Protein interactions with nanomaterials
  • Bio-functional coatings
  • Injectable scaffolds for neural regeneration and repair

Sustainable engineering systems

Our research in sustainable engineering systems is concentrated on urban mobility, smart technology, supply chains and logistics, and sustainable business practice. Our research focuses on eco-efficiency of final products and services generating economic value through successfully addressing ecological impact and meeting human needs while being as resource-efficient as possible.

Current research projects include:

  • Modelling passengers crowd dynamics and congestions in major transport hub
  • Transition to electric, autonomous and connected vehicles in mixed traffic environment
  • Reverse logistics, emergency/ disaster relief logistics and RFID applications
  • Life cycle assessment of transport systems, products and services
  • GPS /Bluetooth/Wi-Fi application on understanding traffic flow and behavior
  • Resource productivity, energy usage of manufacturing and commercial facilities
  • Intelligent collision avoidance system for mobile industrial platforms
  • Sustainability models and adaptive environmental management for a specific industry

Our impact

We work extensively with partners to solve practical problems facing industries and communities. Our partners include:

  • BlueScope Steel
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Stryker Australia
  • Weir Minerals
  • Ruag Australia
  • Magontec Ltd
  • Cook Medical
  • St Vincents Hospital
  • Peter MacAllum Cancer Centre
  • Cornerstone Solutions
  • Flexible Drive
  • Australian Meat Processor Corporation
  • Lockheed Martin (USA)
  • Defence Science and Technology Group
  • Defendtex
  • Siemens
  • Signature Orthopaedics Pty Ltd
  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industry

Recent research highlights include:

  • A spinal implant has been developed and implanted into a patient with excellent outcome. This is part of a program on just in time implants, combining specialised imaging techniques, 3D printing and the accuracy of robotic assisted surgery, to deliver a personalised implant in time for the surgeon to remove the cancer and repair the patient’s bone in the one operation.  
  • Development of strong and ductile Ti- alloy Ti-6Al-4V by additive manufacturing (selective laser melting). This involved careful control of the heat treatment conditions to control the microstructure (via in situ martensite decomposition).
  • A combination of alloy and heat treatment has led to the development of the highest strength-ductility combination for a die cast magnesium alloy. The alloy is undergoing trials in Europe with automotive OEMs for the potential inclusion in automotive structural parts. A variation is also being trialled for industrial tools.
  • Development of novel biomaterial treatment for brains that have been damaged by traumatic injury and stroke. Our designed materials uniquely reduce scarring, allow stem cell transplantation, encourage regeneration and have been shown to allow limb function to be restored.
  • Design and prototype of a vision-based collision warning system that utilises advanced signal and graphical processing boards to run embedded computer vision and machine learning solutions for human detection, colour segmentation and distance estimation. The on-board processing system is able to detect humans wearing a high visible vest, calculate their distances and generate warnings to the driver indicating potential safety-critical scenario.
  • Development of and prototyped a cattle cleaning station that utilises optical cameras and embedded electronics that run the signal processing operations required to detect possible contamination on livestock hides and applies water to remove those. To automate the cleanliness inspection process, a novel image system is developed that is able to classify different sections of animal hide into clean, dirty and dagged categories.
  • A recent study that holds promise for micro and nano scale applications including drug delivery, chemical sensing and energy storage has been published in Nature Nanotechnology. By coating nanomaterials with a polyphenol, normally incompatible materials become compatible. The Materials Modelling and Simulation group was able to reveal how the adsorption process can affect film growth.

Research centres and groups


Who we are

Manufacturing, Materials and Mechatronics Engineering staff

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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