New research to focus on 3D printing of explosives

The Defence Science and Technology Group – which is part of the Department of Defence – will work with research company DefendTex, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Flinders University and Cranfield University to explore the benefits of 3D printing of ‘energetic materials’.

“This research could lead to the production of advanced weapons systems, which can be tailored for unique performance and purpose,” the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, the Federal Minister for Defence Industry, said in a statement.

“It should also allow broader access and more efficient and environmentally friendly manufacturing opportunities to Australian industry, providing significant cost savings and competitive advantage for defence, and industries such as mining construction.”

Industry benefits

According to DefendTex CEO Travis Reddy, the technology should eventually flow on to the extractive industries.

“One example may be on-site manufacture of boosters and parts for initiation systems, effectively offering on-demand manufacture from low sensitive feed stock and improved logistics,” Reddy told Quarry. “Known explosive fillers will be used to form polymer bonded explosives and composite propellants for a variety of applications. We are looking to engage with this industry to evolve new concepts and ideas further,” he added.

Beyond the extractive industries, the technology is also expected to have ‘far-reaching civilian applications’. Reddy cited a few examples, including car airbags and other pyrotechnical devices typically found in the car industry.

“[The technology] allows for great tailoring possibilities and will change the way the industry designs, manufactures and distributes explosives for different applications.

“The fact that a functioning explosive driven device can be manufactured on-site rather than in a big plant makes the need for big production plants with a multitude of product capabilities less pronounced,” Reddy concluded.

About $2.6 million has been committed to the Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) Program over the next two years.

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