Projects

Our current projects demonstrate a cross-section of our work.

1. Just-in-time 3D printed patient-specific bone tumour implants

The Just-in-time 3D Printed Implants project is one of the flagship projects at the Centre for Additive Manufacturing. Funded by the IMCRC and Stryker Asia Pacific, it aims to improve bone cancer patient outcomes through state-of-the-art image guided navigation, robotic excision and 3D printed patient-specific lattice implants. Removal of bone tumours is a challenging and complex task. RMIT is developing new methods for assisting the surgeon during removal of bone tumours, including the development and evaluation of high accuracy, safety-optimized surgical robots and novel cutting technologies. The project also aims to advance and commercialise design technology developed and patented by RMIT researchers. RMIT’s pioneering research in the field of design, optimisation and 3D printing of complex lattice structures allows the tuning of mechanical properties of lattice implants to match behaviour of surrounding bone tissue. The IMCRC Just-in-time project aims to create valuable scientific evidence through extensive mechanical characterisation and detailed pre-clinical studies that close the current research gaps that prevent widespread adoption of this technology.

Partners: Stryker, University of Sydney, St Vincent’s Hospital
Funding: Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), Stryker Asia Pacific
RMIT Project Lead: Distinguished Professor Milan Brandt

2. Sustainment of high value aircraft components through laser metal deposition

Damage of components through corrosion, impact from foreign objects and fatigue is a major problem for both civilian and defence aviation. Conventional repair methods are becoming increasingly unsuitable, as they are limited to near surface defects and cannot cope with the fine tolerances of modern lightweight designs. This often results in the grounding of vital air assets, with long lead times for costly replacements required. This project seeks to improve the readiness and sustainability of RAAF platforms through the development of a sovereign capability for component repair through laser metal deposition (LMD). This work is being carried out as part of a DMTC project, with the techniques now implemented with project industrial partner, RUAG Australia.  The research is primarily concerned with the repair of high strength steels and seeks to optimise the LMD process to achieve ideal microstructures and maximize material performance while preserving the original component. 

Partners: RUAG Australia, Swinburne University, and DSTG
Funding: DMTC
RMIT Project lead: Distinguished Professor Milan Brandt

3. Additively manufactured lightweight hybrid ballistic protection

A search for lightweight ballistic protection to replace or supplement conventional steel armour identified titanium alloys as a potential alternative. Titanium alloys have a high strength-to-weight ratio, and good corrosion resistance properties. The microstructure of armour plays a major role in its ultimate ballistic performance. Hence, controlling the microstructure of armour materials while they are being fabricated is one of the keys to maximising their protection capabilities. Additive manufacturing (AM) methods, such as laser powder bed fusion, coupled with additional post-processing, can manipulate the microstructure to increase ballistic properties. Using additive manufacturing techniques also presents an opportunity to produce bespoke shape parts, and eliminates the need for welding or other means of joining, which are often detrimental to the integrity of the armour. This project aims to leverage advantages of additive manufacturing over conventional manufacturing methods, namely microstructural and geometric control, to develop new ballistic armour with performance superior to conventional counterparts. 

Partner: Defence Science Technology Group (DSTG)
Funding: Defence Science Technology Group (DSTG)
RMIT Project Leads: Distinguished Professor Milan Brandt, Distinguished Professor Ma Qian, Professor Martin Leary 

4. Novel micro-architecture-optimised metal lattice structures by 3D printing

This project aims to research and develop a novel methodology for the design and 3D printing of micro-architectured intricate metal lattice structures that can markedly expand the boundaries of both metal property space and structural forms. This will be achieved by harnessing the synergies across topology design, manufacturing optimisation, and in-situ microstructural control. The expected outcomes are a novel milestone methodology that will benefit Australia by enabling a new wave of innovation in materials design and 3D printing, and a new class of lightweight intricate metal lattice structures that potentially offer significant mechanical and/or biological properties for near-term commercial applications.

Funding: ARC Discovery Project (2020-2023)
RMIT Project Leads: Distinguished Professor Ma Qian, Distinguished Professor Milan Brandt, and Professor Martin Leary 

5. Unlocking the potential of low-cost beta-titanium alloys by 3D printing

The outcomes of this project are expected to fundamentally change the design and fabrication of ultra-high strength beta-titanium alloys and to significantly extend the capabilities of metal 3D printing, as well as advancing the knowledge base of both metal 3D printing and titanium alloys. They further provide a strategic solution to the manufacture of other similar engineering alloys in the broad field of metals. In addition, the newly designed alloys offer real potential for immediate commercialisation.

Funding: ARC Discovery Project (2019-2021)
RMIT Project Leads: Distinguished Professor Ma Qian, Dr Dong Qiu

6. Integrated computational material and structural modelling capability for additive manufacture

This project aims to develop an integrated computational material and structural modelling approach for the prediction of the performance of additively manufactured components under different loading conditions.

Funding: Defence Science Technology Group (DSTG) (2020-2023)
RMIT Project Leads: Distinguished Professor Ma Qian, Professor Martin Leary 

7. Additive manufacture of phantoms for radiation dosimetry in lung lesions

Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR) is a high precision, high dose delivery to small targets in the human body where motion management and image guidance become essential. The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre treats approximately 300 SABR patients per year using the Varian Linear accelerators. Currently Radiotherapy phantoms used to assist in treatment planning and machine quality assurance only consist of tissue-like materials, mimicking the average x-ray attenuation of healthy persons. These phantoms come at high cost, and only represent the average human body in radiotherapy. This project utilises novel methods in additive manufacturing to replicate the varying densities of human tissue in the radiotherapy setting. Additionally, these phantoms can be produced in any form and shape and utilise readily available materials. Furthermore, additive manufacturing reduces both cost and lead-time.

Partner: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
Funding: ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Additive Biomanufacturing
RMIT Project Leads: Professor Martin Leary, Distinguished Professor Milan Brandt

8. Computational modelling of defects in additively manufactured lattice structures

Additive manufacturing of lattice structures enables production of patient-specific bone prothesis with superior osteoconductive and mechanical characteristics. However, defects are produced on the lattice’s fundamental strut and node elements during AM processing. For the first time, manufacturing defects are studied on both these fundamental lattice components via image-based simulations. A series of methodologies are proposed for AM lattice implant designers that increase their predictive capabilities whilst accounting for the random nature of AM produced geometrical defects.

Partner: St Vincent’s Hospital
Funding: ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Additive Biomanufacturing
RMIT Project Leads: Professor Martin Leary, Dr David Downing, Distinguished Professor Milan Brandt 

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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 Nation 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. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer