Like going to the dentist, mineral exploration and discovery can involve a lot of drilling and a fair amount of (financial) pain. And much like your friendly neighbourhood dentist, the longer it takes to understand what’s happening, the more it costs.
When it comes to getting information about the minerals and chemistry of a single drill hole, the process can take up to three months. This is because a typical setup involves: setting up the drill site, drilling, extracting rock cores, sampling and logging those cores and sending the samples to a laboratory (which is often a considerable distance from the exploration site) for analysis. Then there is the process of entering and analysing the data, popping the findings into a database and getting it back to the company, so they can make a decision – it’s more complex than a root canal and much more expensive.
To speed up the process of understanding the mineralogy and geochemistry of drill hole cuttings we developed a portable lab, one that can be fitted to the exploration drill rig and analyse in real-time.
Instead of taking three months this process now takes about one hour – that’s more than 2000 times quicker than the current arrangement.
We’ve called this technology Lab-at-Rig®. Developed in partnership with Imdex and Olympus Scientific Solutions Americas, this onsite lab can be fitted to a diamond drill rig and a solid recovery unit to drastically speed-up the process of analysing an exploration site.
The lab includes a sample preparation unit that collects solids from drill cuttings and dries them; X-ray fluorescence and X-ray diffraction sensors to provide chemistry and mineralogy of the sample respectively; and the capability to upload that data to the cloud for analysis, in less time than it takes to watch a movie.
The project came about back in 2011, when a group of researchers were watching a diamond drilling operation near Adelaide and asked a simple question: ‘what if we could analyse the cuttings separated from that fluid in real time?’ We now know the answer: we can save a lot of time and money.
And now, after two years of research and development we’ve just announced that we will be commercialising Lab-at-Rig® and bringing this technology to the world, with the help of our commercialisation partner REFLEX.
With the prototype becoming a reality, perhaps we should turn our attention to making dentist visits quicker.
The Lab-at-Rig prototype was developed under the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DET CRC).
CSIRO, Imdex, Olympus, University of Adelaide and Curtin University are now working on the $11m collaborative DET CRC Lab-at-Rig Futures Project, which will build the next generation system to cover: new sensor technologies, improved data analysis and processing for decision making, and development of the system for new applications and drilling platforms.
By Emily Lehmann
In a mission to bolster the nation’s air force fleet, the Australian Government has committed to bring home 72 stealthy, next-gen F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF). It’s Australia’s largest military acquisition and will be part of a more than 3000-strong global fleet of JSFs – and every one of these strike fighters will have Australian made components inside.
Increasing production rates to deliver these aerospace parts is critical. That’s why the Australian Government’s New Air Combat Capability program tasked us with developing a technology to drive greater efficiency for the local manufacturers who make and supply them.
The result? A metal machining (cutting) technology that is five times faster and which dramatically reduces machining costs by as much as 80 per cent.
Crucial titanium alloy parts make up about 15 per cent of an aircraft, and are ideal for their lightweight, yet super strong qualities. But from a machining point of view, titanium alloys are notoriously difficult and complicated to work with. The conventional methods out there are slow and tools tend to break prematurely.
Our technology, called thermally assisted machining (TAM) works by pointing a laser beam on the workpiece ahead of the cutting tool, heating up the metal so that it’s more pliable. This speeds up the process while preventing damage and wear to machining tools.
With metal aerospace components estimated to be worth a sizey $50 billion worldwide (and growing) this technology could see Australian manufacturers further tap into the global market for military and commercial aircraft.
TAM’s applications go beyond the titanium machining too, and could benefit other nickel and iron base super alloys which are difficult to machine.
We’re now partnering with local manufacturer H&H Tools to develop a prototype for a gantry type milling machine to demonstrate how the technology works. We expect this to be ready in 2016.
Find out more about our technologies for high performance metals.
A Spanish cancer patient has received a 3D printed titanium sternum and rib cage designed and manufactured right here in Australia, at our Melbourne-based 3D printing facility in Melbourne.
Suffering from a chest wall sarcoma (a type of cancerous tumour that grows, in this instance, around the rib cage), the 54 year old man needed his sternum and a portion of his rib cage replaced. This part of the chest is notoriously tricky to recreate with prosthetics, due to the complex geometry and design required for each patient. So the patient’s surgical team determined that a fully customisable 3D printed sternum and rib cage was the best option.
That’s when they turned to Melbourne-based medical device company Anatomics, who designed and manufactured the implant utilising our 3D printing facility, Lab 22.
The news was announced by Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane today. And the news is good, 12 days after the surgery the patient was discharged and has recovered well.
This isn’t the first time surgeons have turned the human body into a titanium masterpiece. Thoracic surgeons typically use flat and plate implants for the chest. However, these can come loose over time and increase the risk of complications. The patient’s surgical team at the Salamanca University Hospital thought a fully customised 3D printed implant could replicate the intricate structures of the sternum and ribs, providing a safer option for the patient.
Using high resolution CT data, the Anatomics team was able to create a 3D reconstruction of the chest wall and tumour, allowing the surgeons to plan and accurately define resection margins. We were then called on to print the sternum and rib cage at Lab 22.
As you could imagine, the 3D printer at Officeworks wasn’t quite up to this challenge. Instead, we relied on our $1.3 million Arcam printer to build up the implant layer-by-layer with its electron beam, resulting in a brand new implant which was promptly couriered to Spain.
This video explains how it all works.
The advantage of 3D printing is its rapid prototyping. When you’re waiting for life-saving surgery this is the definitely the order of the day.
We are no strangers to biomedical applications of 3D printing: in the past we have used our know-how to create devices like the 3D printed heel-bone, or the 3D printed mouth-guard for sleep apnoea suffers.
When it comes to using 3D printing for biomedical applications, it seems that we are just scratching the surface of what’s possible. So, we’re keen to partner with biomedical manufacturers to see how we can help solve more unique medical challenges.
Media contact: Crystal Ladiges, Phone: +61 3 9545 2982, Mobile: +61 477 336 854 or Email: Crystal.Ladiges@csiro.au
By Crystal Ladiges
The Shelby Mustang has been held up as high performance marvel by sports car-enthusiasts for generations. Appearing as fabled-creature Eleanor, she’s best known for stealing the show (and Nicolas Cage’s heart) in the action flick Gone in 60 Seconds.
Now, details of the all-new 2016 Ford Shelby GT350R have been released. And it has been touted as the most track-ready road-going production Mustang ever.
That the new Shelby will be rocket ship-fast should come as no surprise, but what is news to many is that it’s an Aussie innovation that will make this pony gallop!
Ford has announced the GT350R will roll out the world’s first mass-produced carbon fibre wheels. Not only do these wheels look fast, carbon fibre wheels are nearly half the weight of an equivalent made out of aluminium (eight kilograms versus 15 kilograms) and as a result, a car’s handling, acceleration and chassis performance see serious benefits.
Up until now, these high-performance wheels have only been available as an after-market product or in the rarefied world of supercars. This is the first time they will be included part of a car’s standard kit.
And the best part is, this high-tech innovation has been developed right here, by Geelong-based manufacturer Carbon Revolution.
Carbon Revolution is a leading manufacturer in carbon-fibre wheels, however when approached with this challenge, they knew significant innovation would be needed to meet Ford’s particular requirements.
The wheels would have to be incredibly strong, in order to withstand the likes of kerb strikes, potholes and everyday bad driving, as well as wear and tear from weather, rain and temperature changes.
That’s why they approached our Infrastructure Technologies team to help put the wheels through their paces. Using our accelerated weathering and materials durability equipment, we simulated conditions equivalent to extended exposure to the elements. We were able to show that the high-tech wheels could stand the test of time.
Because many owners will also take their GT350R around the track, the wheels also had to be designed to withstand some serious heat. After all, have you ever seen the glow from the brakes after Winterbottom hits the anchors flying into a hairpin corner?
To address this, Carbon Revolution developed a heat-shielding method that is literally out of this world – similar to that used on the engine turbines of space shuttles. However, they needed to assess how effective this would be for when applied to a road vehicle.
Drawing on our expertise in fire safety, our engineers worked with the company to thermally model the conditions the brakes and the wheels would experience in race conditions. The team then repurposed facilities used for bushfire testing to expose Carbon Revolution’s wheels to a series of high heat load assessments. The tests showed that the wheels were able to withstand the high brake temperatures, without degrading the carbon fibre.
Not only is Ford’s announcement a big plus for car enthusiasts, it’s a huge win for local industry – highlighting Australia’s important role in supplying the global auto market.
This will continue thanks in part to Carbon Revolution’s $24m purpose-built manufacturing facility that will create over 100 new jobs for the Geelong region. When complete, this facility will have capacity for commercial scale production of 50,000 carbon fibre wheels a year.
This story is part of our spotlight series on #CSIROhealth. From apps to 3D printing, global epidemics to preventative wellbeing, we’re working in many ways, across many industries, to keep you healthy. More on our website.
Plastic surgery is a booming business in Australia. In fact, we spend over $1 billion each year on surgical procedures and treatments, with liposuction, breast augmentation and rhinoplasty topping the list.
While many patients simply want to change their appearance or chase the fountain of youth, plastic surgery can make the biggest difference to people who are recovering from trauma, or who are suffering from other debilitating medical conditions.
For those that have been in a road or industrial accident, or who have had a cancerous tumour removed, reconstructive surgery can return function to affected body parts, boost confidence and put patients on the path to full recovery.
That’s why we’ve partnered with Australian medical devices company Anatomics to develop better surgical implants that can be used in these types of procedures. Last year we worked together to 3D print a titanium heel bone implant, saving cancer sufferer Len Chandler’s leg and making headlines around the world.
Now, we’ve helped Anatomics develop a new type of polyethylene (plastic) implant, specifically designed for repairing and augmenting bones in the head, skull and face.
This new implant is called PoreStar, named after the star shaped particle used in its manufacturing process, to create a porous structure. PoreStar is the first in a new class of implant material with bone like architecture. Unlike other implants, PoreStar has an open pore structure that resembles real bone.
“To create this implant we took a known material in polyethylene which has a history of being approved for use in the human body,” Dr Mike O’Shea from our biomedical manufacturing team says.
“We then took some inspiration from manufacturing processes that are used in different industries. We drew on our knowledge in structural fibres, moulding and biomedical scaffolds.”
By bringing together all of this expertise, the team was able to develop a product that had higher porosity, giving it improved malleability and flexibility. This means that surgeons can actually shape and mould the implants in the operating theatre.
Anatomics CEO Andrew Batty says the implants are designed from 3D CT scans, meaning they are customised for individual patients, which can improve surgical outcomes.
“It’s rewarding being able to develop a product that has the potential to help so many people around the world.”
“What’s more, we’ve really been able to tap into the local industry. Thanks to this new product, we were able to set up a manufacturing facility for the implants right here in Melbourne.”
Building on this success, the team is now looking toward the opening of the Biomedical Materials Transformation Facility a $46 million initiative that will bring together CSIRO, Monash University and 20 industry partners to focus on taking biomedical products from the bench to prototype, and ultimately to market.
Learn more about our work in biomedical manufacturing on our website.