High-tech ‘backyard shed’ to be digital advanced manufacturing hub

02/11/2012

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Groundbreaking printing technology that turns computer designs or blueprints into solid objects like hearing aids and dental crowns is being used in an Australian-first project at an Adelaide laboratory.

Science and Information Economy Minister, Tom Kenyon today launched the Adelaide Fab Lab which will put South Australia at the forefront of digital advanced manufacturing - and give anybody the chance to see their own innovations come to life in 3D.

Adelaide Fab Lab is one of a network of laboratories started by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology aimed at providing the community with an opportunity to experiment with 3D printing technology.

"This amazing technology can be used to design and manufacture products in fields as diverse as medical products, architecture, engineering, construction, aerospace and the automotive industry," Mr Kenyon said.

"It's been used to make customised hearing aid shells, hip replacements, artificial limbs and dental crowns and has the potential to be used to make all kinds of products like shoes, kitchenware, mobile phones and furniture.

"But the technology is no longer restricted to large corporations and its potential applications are endless.

"The Adelaide Fab Lab will be a high-tech 'backyard shed' where anyone can watch their own designs come to life."

The State Government recently launched an advanced manufacturing strategy, which will set up advanced manufacturing business clusters.

"We know that we need to compete with other countries by making products that are niche, high-value products, rather than cheap products made by workers on low wages," Mr Kenyon said.

"The Adelaide Fab Lab will play an important role in promoting and demonstrating the potential benefits of 3D printing for local manufacturers.

"It's is a place where businesses, designers and students can come to learn to use the machines and software, discover what's technically possible and develop prototypes and sample products.

"This is manufacturing driven by design and creativity, where ideas are brought to life in the real world when the creator pushes the button.

"3D printing makes it easier for South Australian businesses to get into manufacturing and the Fab Lab environment provides them with opportunities to gain a competitive edge in their particular industries.

"This technology is a boon for South Australian designers, artists, researchers and inventors who can try out new products with less risk and expense.

"The future of our State's prosperity will rely on nurturing a culture of innovation and this means investing in skills which will lead to jobs in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields.

"The Fab Lab provides a taste of what's possible for those students wanting to take up opportunities for new careers in these STEM related fields," Mr Kenyon said.

Fab Lab Adelaide is a $200,000 State Government initiative. It will be hosted by TAFE SA's Adelaide College of the Arts in Light Square and managed by the Australian Network of Art and Technology.

The public will be able to visit Fab Lab Adelaide, Light Square on Thursdays and Fridays for the next six months.