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18 July 2013
A $103million research and innovation centre in Geelong is close to completion, with the second stage of development opened by Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and Minister for Higher Education Kim Carr.
The Australian Future Fibre Research and Innovation Centre (AFFRIC) is a collaboration of Deakin University, CSIRO and the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (VCAMM).
Based at Deakin’s Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus, the Centre brings together Australia’s top fibre and manufacturing scientists to conduct research on all aspects of fibre manufacturing, including carbon fibre development, natural fibres, smart fibrous materials and fibres enhanced with nanomaterials.
The second stage of the AFFRIC project sees the completion of two buildings: the Australian Carbon Fibre Research Facility (Carbon Nexus), that will house the world’s first dedicated pilot scale research plant capable of producing industrially relevant quantities of aerospace quality carbon fibre, and the CSIRO’s Fibre Processing Building.
Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander said this next stage in AFFRIC’s development was a major milestone not just for Deakin but also for the changing face of manufacturing in Geelong.
“The combined innovative capacity generated by AFFRIC will have a transformational impact on Australia’s manufacturing and fibre related industries which is particularly important in Geelong, where with Alcoa, Ford and Shell we’ve watched the sun set on the glorious days of old style production-line manufacturing,” Professor den Hollander said.
“Through AFFRIC and Carbon Nexus, Deakin and Geelong are vigorously forging a reputation as a global leader in the development of carbon fibre composites and sending a message to industry that Geelong is a place where you can invest, drive innovation, create jobs and be part of a thriving University city.”
Exceptionally strong and light, carbon fibre is a defining material for 21st century manufacturing. A 20 ton pa carbon fibre line and a single-tow carbon fibre research line will enable Carbon Nexus researchers to address a shortfall in research to extend its properties, functionality and production of carbon fibre.
“At Deakin we have deliberately developed a research focus on carbon fibre as an industry for the jobs of the future,” Professor den Hollander said.
“We have done this because we firmly believe the key to sustaining Geelong’s growth, and indeed Australia’s future growth, is education and innovation in partnership with industry and business.”
A clear example of the commitment to partnerships is the colocation of CSIRO to Deakin’s Waurn Ponds Campus. This collaboration is set to increase the research capacity of both organisations to service the textile and fibre industry.
CSIRO’s fibre processing facility will accommodate 15 to 20 staff who will focus on the development of new hi-tech and sustainable fibres and materials with applications in manufacturing, defence, aerospace and health. In partnership with the cotton industry, scientists will also work to improve the quality of the Australian cotton crop.
The building will be home to a full range of fibre processing equipment capable of converting fibres into textile structures along with a fibre and textile testing facility approved by the National Association of Testing Authorities.
CSIRO’s Acting Group Executive, Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals, Dr Anita Hill, said the vision is that CSIRO scientists, working in partnership with Deakin’s scientists, will deliver breakthrough technologies, materials and textiles which assist Australian manufacturers to compete, grow and prosper.
“The completion of this building marks a new chapter of innovation for this region and Australia,” Dr Hill said.
AFFRIC, with a projected 385 researchers including 165 new positions, has already created around 500 jobs and injected $160m into the region during the building and construction phase. Once the project is fully operational it will (conservatively) add $25m per annum into the economy in the Geelong region and help position the area as the international hub for research in advanced fibrous materials.
The first stage of AFFRIC’s development was opened in February this year and provides laboratory, office and conference space to accommodate the colocation of CSIRO fibre and manufacturing scientists who have relocated to Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus. The facility supports shared chemistry and physics laboratories, including microscopy suites that house over $20million of high end instruments for material characterisation.
AFFRIC was established with funding from the Commonwealth Education Investment Fund and the Victorian Government’s Science Agenda Strategic Project Fund to conduct research focussing on all aspects of fibre manufacturing.
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