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Defence technology innovation

UOW engineers sought out by defence industry to provide materials, welding and automation expertise

Creating a safer environment for defence personnel by applying evidence-backed welding and automation technologies for armoured vehicles underpins a long-standing collaboration founded and based at UOW.

The partnership emerged a decade ago, when Thales sought expertise in welding engineering from UOW researchers. This original consultancy has led to multiple collaborative projects, and resulted in UOW hosting the NSW node of the Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC), a nationwide network of technology and research organisations focused on delivering enhanced defence and national security capabilities.

One example is a welding automation technology that allows engineers to create robotic welding programs from computer drawings, greatly reducing manufacturing time and costs. This technology is adaptable to a wide range of robotic processes and has been implemented by smaller defence industry manufacturers to scale up production, therefore improving competitiveness. The expertise in this area is a research program distinctive to UOW.

With partners that also include the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, BlueScope, other Australian universities and specialist manufacturers, UOW’s cutting-edge work has also focused on optimising welding processes and enhancing amour materials, such as steel, for vehicle, ship, and submarine building.

Recognition for the collaboration has included the 2013 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia for collaboration on the DMTC Armour Applications Program, while UOW researchers have received a number of awards from partners Thales and the DMTC, have published in high impact academic journals, and are training job-ready defence technology engineers via UOW Masters and PhD programs.

The mutual benefits of the original partnership between Thales and UOW are most strongly demonstrated by industry adoption of the innovative manufacturing techniques and technologies the partnership has developed.

The future of the DMTC collaboration is encouraging, with the team progressing work on automated welding and improved steels for construction of the Bushmaster armoured personnel carrier into its successor, the Hawkei. As well, research development is set to begin on naval surface ships construction based in South Australia, building on its past work developing maritime construction solutions, which earned the group the National Innovation Award at the Pacific 2015 Maritime Exposition.

Photograph credit: Australian Army Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles. © Commonwealth of Australia 2017

DMTC UOW participants

BlueScope Steel
Australian Nuclear Technology Science Organisation

DMTC UOW participants

Prof. John Norrish, Prof. Chris Cook, A/Prof. Stephen van Duin, Prof. Huijun Li, Dr Dominic Cuiuri, Dr Zengxi Pan, Nathan Larkin