AML3D and Austal set to co-develop naval defense applications

Adelaide-based start-up AML3D has signed a contract with global shipbuilder Austal to co-develop Additive Manufactured (AM) components for naval defense applications. 

The partnership aims to update the current lifting device on-board commercial and defense naval vessels. 

In addition to using the project to highlight its capabilities in the global defense market, AML3D intends to deliver an ergonomically friendly and lighter solution with enhanced load-bearing capabilities. 

“We’re excited to design and manufacture advanced solutions for quality counterparties such as Austal,” said Andrew Sales, Managing Director at AML3D.  “To be identified by Austal as a leading Australian innovator is a testament to our technology platform and provides a great opportunity to significantly expand our presence in the Australian and global marine sector.” 

AM3LD and Austal’s Collaboration 

Austal executed a contract with AML3D in order to use the company’s AM technologies and design solutions in the project.  

The Australian companies have teamed up to co-develop components for maritime defense applications. For the project, AM3LD is using its in-house Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) platform to optimize the design of the existing lifting device. The proposed next-generation device is intended for installation on-board naval vessels constructed by Austal. AML3D is set to design a personnel lifting device to be manufactured with WAM. 

WAM technology combines metallurgical science and engineering design to automate the 3D printing process through advanced robotics technology. In 2014, AML3D trademarked its technology under WAM and propriety software WAMSoft. 

The contract between Austal and AML3D evolved from a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formed with Austal in August 2019. The initial design and development phase of the project is valued at less than $20k. The purchase order is a binding agreement for the delivery of optimization and structural engineering design and development by 30 October 2020.

“This is an initial step towards a much bigger goal to incorporate additive manufacturing methods within our business and we are proud to be able to pursue this exciting path with a fellow Australian technology leader in AML3D,” added Andrew Malcolm, Chief Digital Officer at Austal.

Austal executed a contract with AML3D in order to use the company’s AM technologies and design solutions in the project.
Austal executed a contract with AML3D in order to use the company’s AM technologies and design solutions in the project.

AML3D, Austal and WAM

Founded in 2014, AML3D is a start-up company currently operating out of its Adelaide Manufacturing Center. AML3D specializes in providing commercial large-scale Additive Metal Layering (ALM) 3D printing services to Defence, Maritime, Automotive, and Resources customers. Currently, the company’s main focus is commercializing WAM as at present AML3D has the only metals diversified large-scale WAM production facility in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Both AML3D and Austal aim to implement the use of WAM into ship manufacturing projects in the future. The application of WAM in this project is in-line with AML3D’s long-standing goal to apply the technology to a plethora of future applications in shipbuilding. Furthermore, Austal is interested in exploring WAM’s robotic capabilities in large scale ship module constructions.  

Over the next two years, AML3D plans to branch out its services and products into a CAD Design service, extend its market reach, and manufacture mobile 3D WAM printers.  

AML3D and Austal's partnership will deliver ergonomically friendly Vessels with enhanced loading and bearing capabilities. Photo via Austal.
AML3D and Austal’s partnership will deliver ergonomically friendly Vessels with enhanced loading and bearing capabilities. Photo via Austal.

Australian Army and the application of WAM

Austal was founded in 1988 and specializes in building commercial and defense vessels. Since 2017 Austal has designed and constructed over 260 vessels for defense forces such as the Australian Border Force and the Royal Australian Navy. 

In February 2020 SPEE3D and Charles Darwin University worked together to assist the Australian Army in a $15 AUD million project. The initiative gave 20 soldiers training in AM and Lieutenant Colonel Kane Wright, Commanding Officer 1 CSSB, said the project highlighted the Australian Army’s focus towards keeping up with technology.

In the past, the Australian Army has implemented other 3D printed techniques into its workforce. In June 2020  the Army carried out a field test of metal 3D printer manufacturer SPEE3D’s WarpSPEE3D AM systems. The three-day trial took place in various locations across the Australian Northern Territories to demonstrate the efficiency of metal 3D printed parts during field training. SPEE3D’s 3D printers were tested for 30 minutes in difficult conditions which highlighted the potential of AM for repairing damaged equipment during missions. 

Following this in August 2020, the Australian Army carried out a second set of field exercises using SPEE3D’s WARPSPEE3D AM systems. The tests were carried out after the success of the Australian Army’s initial three-day field trials conducted earlier this year. The soldiers were given an upgraded machine to 3D print end-use components at stifling temperatures of up to 37oC. 

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Featured image shows the Austal Australia’s 7th Guardian-class Patrol Boat. Image Via Austal.