CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), the scientific research arm of the Australian government, has just launched $6 million 3D printing lab, Lab 22. And, to immediately give businesses access to the new lab, they’ve signed a deal with Canberra-based start-up Made for Me and Keech3D.
Lab 22 is meant to increase access to industrial 3D printing systems by allowing businesses to have parts printed on such machines, without the capital risk of purchasing them. Alex Kingsbury, CSIRO additive manufacturing research leader, explains, “This advanced equipment is in the range of $1 million per unit, but the vast majority of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) don’t have that amount of capital on-hand to take a leap of faith on a new or emerging technology.” Kingsbury continues, “We’re providing Australian companies with a unique opportunity to access some of the most advanced additive manufacturing equipment with the help of our experienced technical experts, for a comparatively minimal daily fee.”
The facility is currenlty made up of a variety of high-cost machines, including: Arcam A1, Concept Laser M2, Optomec LENS MR-7, Voxelject VX1000 and Cold Spray Plasma Giken. With this tech, CSIRO can custom design parts, repair parts, and product new parts altogether. The organization has already done so using its Arcam machine, 3D printing a titanium heel bone implant for a cancer patient, a mouthguard for sleep apnea, and an orthotic for horses.
The organization is beginning by allowing Made for Me and Keech 3D to use their facilities. Keech3D is a full service 3D printing and engineering provider, capable of 3D scanning, design, engineering, and 3D printing. Made for Me is an online network of 3D printing companies that gives users the ability to upload a file and automatically find the fastest or cheapest service provider available. The network developed as a result of Made for Me’s participation in the GRIFFIN Accelerator. Co-founder and CEO James Antifaev explains, “We’ve seen that Australian businesses want to find faster, local options for high-quality 3D printing, but have been going overseas for industrial-grade work because it has historically been too difficult to identify suitable local suppliers,” said co-founder and CEO, James Antifaev. “Our network finally solves that problem by making it as easy as uploading your file and selecting a material – we automatically find the best option for your project, and you can check out within seconds,” he continues. “Using a local manufacturer from our network can cut turnaround time in half for customers, and it keeps more manufacturing business in Australia.”
In addition to providing local businesses with 3D printing services, CSIRO’s Lab 22 is part of a larger pattern of governments the world over to launch their own high-tech additive manufacturing facilities. By launching Lab 22, Australia is able to compete with countries like the US, Singapore, Taiwan, and China, all of which have their own government-financed 3D printing facilities.