Unique technology using 3D printing for cutting tools developed in Australia

A collaboration between Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and the country’s leading tool maker: ANCA, has developed a novel 3D printing technology for cutting tools. The Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Center (IMCRC) is supporting the nine-month-old project that cost 928,000 Australian Dollars and is working to develop a new 3D printing process for tungsten carbide tools.

The advanced research phase is now focused on improving the additive manufacturing technology before ANCA takes the hybrid manufacturing platform to the market. This additive manufacturing technology will allow affordable, high-performance tools to be quickly produced using a single platform. It will replace the lengthy process of mold pressing, sintering, brazing, grinding, and brazing.

Grinding starts with tool blanks. Photo via ANCA.
Grinding starts with tool blanks. Photo via ANCA.

Dean McBain is the Research & Technology Manager of ANCA. McBain said that the project could transform the manufacturing process for tungsten-carbide brazed inserts both in Australia and around the globe. Continuing, he explained that ANCA’s collaborations with CSIRO and IMCRC have accelerated the development of this inventive application of additive manufacturing technology, which he believes has the potential to disrupt the $2.2 billion global cutting tool market.

This project’s successful completion will allow ANCA to commercialize its new hybrid additive manufacturing platform, increase its workforce and revenue, and fill a significant gap within the global tooling market.

ANCA capabilities - iView measuring system. Photo via ANCA.
ANCA capabilities – iView measuring system. Photo via ANCA.

Dr. Kathie McGregor from CSIRO’s Research Director for Advanced Materials and Processes stated that the project would make metal additive manufacturing technology more accessible to Australian industry. CSIRO is committed to providing high-end R&D support for the Australian industry with state-of-the-art equipment and world-class know-how. “We have collaborated with ANCA to develop a unique technology further.” Dr. McGregor expects that the results will allow ANCA to diversify and expand its business and boost the local economy through additional jobs and increased export income. 

IMCRC’s Manufacturing Innovation manager Dr. Matthew Young said that IMCRC is pleased to support ANCA’s innovations and, in turn, contribute to Australia’s advanced manufacturing sector. He noted that additive manufacturing could bring significant benefits to Australian manufacturers by reducing costs and speeding up the time to market.

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Featured image shows ANCA capabilities – Robot loading. Photo via ANCA.