RMIT 3D printing research wins peak manufacturing industry award

RMIT 3D printing research wins peak manufacturing industry award

Industry-led research to 3D print steel tools has won the Endeavour Award for best technology application.

PhD student Jimmy Toton's prize-winning collaboration with DMTC and Sutton Tools is the first convincing demonstration of 3D printed steel tools that are able to cut titanium as well as, or even better than, conventional steel tools.

"It has been a humbling experience being recognized by my peers in the manufacturing and R&D industry for my work," Toton said.

"The award fuels my ambition to continue to develop additive manufacturing technology for tooling applications."

PhD student Jimmy Toton with RMIT Acting Director for Research Engagement and Business Development, Clare Russell. PhD student Jimmy Toton with RMIT Acting Director for Research Engagement and Business Development, Clare Russell.

Because the metals used in defence and aerospace industries are so strong, making high quality tools to cut them is a major, and expensive, challenge.

“We’ve now shown how 3D printing can be applied in this industry to improve productivity and tool life while reducing cost,” Toton said.

The team’s high-performance steel milling cutters were made using Laser Metal Deposition technology, which works by feeding metal powder into a laser beam.

As the laser moves and the metal solidifies at the trailing edge, a 3D object is built layer by layer.

The same project also won a top innovation prize at this year’s Australian International Airshow.

Sutton Tools Technology Manager, Dr Steve Dowey, said having Toton working closely with them as an engineering intern during his research was crucial in ensuring industry-relevant outcomes. 

“This project exemplifies the ethos of capability-building through industrial applied research, rather than just focusing on excellent research for its own sake,” Dowey said.

Meanwhile, RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct (AMP), where Toton's research is conducted, was an Endeavour Award finalist for excellence in manufacturing skills development.

AMP Technical Director and Toton’s supervisor, Professor Milan Brandt, said the $35 million facility, now in its eight year of operation, was among Australia’s best for advanced manufacturing research and skills development.

“This facility underpins our expertise in additive manufacturing and helps our partners create bespoke solutions - new products, processes or business models - that give them the edge,” Brandt said.

17 May 2019


Growing interest in these opportunities is reflected in the AMP’s annual additive manufacturing research income passing $4million in 2019.

The AMP hosts collaborative research with more than 40 companies including Ford, Siemens and Boeing - as well as many smaller enterprises - and hosts dozens of international delegations each year.

Other examples of industry-led research at the AMP facility include: 

  • 3D printing implants to replace bone removed in cancer surgery, improving chances of saving limbs. Industry partners: St Vincent's Hospital, University of Technology Sydney, Stryker and Innovative Manufacturing CRC.
  • Using 3D printers to repair aircraft and mining machine parts with a bond as strong as the original, avoiding the purchase, storage and shipping of replacement parts. Industry partners: Defence Science & Technology, DMTC, RUAG.
  • Designing next generation 3D printers to make plastics that withstand high temperatures and pressure for parts in aerospace and automotive industries. Industry partner: Siemens


The Endeavour Awards night held during National Manufacturing Week is widely regarded as the premier awards program within the Australian manufacturing industry

Story: Michael Quin

17 May 2019


  • Research
  • Aerospace & Aviation
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Science and technology
  • Industry
  • Defence

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