Deakin Research

Institute for Frontier Materials


Project Examples


Automotive research at Deakin is based on both global industry trends and local manufacturer collaboration. Deakin is involved in cutting-edge materials and manufacturing research, as well as working closely with Ford and Holden on issues vital to the success of the Australian automotive industry.

Projects are often multi-disciplinary, combining design, materials, manufacturing and computer simulation. The main focus of Deakin's Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Performance (AMMP) group are:

  • Developing light-weight automotive structures
  • Optimizing automotive tooling manufacture

Light-weighting vehicles - a global trend

To improve performance and reduce fuel emissions, the automotive industry must continually reduce vehicle weight. Weight reduction can be achieved by either reducing the thickness of traditional components, or alternatively, using lower density structural materials. Either way, there is much to be understood in terms of the manufacturability and performance of these newer materials before their widespread use in the automotive industry.

Advanced High Strength Steels

Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS) such as dual-phase and TRIP are several times stronger than conventional steels, allowing the use of thinner automotive components. Current research areas at Deakin on AHSS include:

  • Formability of AHSS
  • Fatigue of AHSS
  • High strain rate (crash) properties of AHSS

Light Metals

Light metals such as aluminium and magnesium have lower relative densities than steel, allowing the potential for significant weight reductions. Current research areas at Deakin on light metals include:

  • Aluminium alloy and magnesium alloy extrusions for bumper and crash box application
  • Sheet formability of magnesium alloys

Sandwich Materials

Sandwich materials are laminates of metals and polymers, making them much lighter than traditional metals used in the automotive industry. Current research areas at Deakin on sandwich materials include:

  • Formability of metal/polymer/metal laminates


Current automotive research areas at Deakin on composites include:

  • Carbon fibre composite laminates for automotive body panels
  • Rapid composite tube manufacture using the Quickstep process

Bringing better vehicles to market, quicker and cheaper

Deakin researchers currently work with local automotive manufacturers to improve manufacturing quality while reducing the time to bring products to market. This can be done in a variety of ways including improving the robustness and efficiency of current manufacturing processes, and improving the accuracy of computer simulation models used in tooling design, formability analysis and component performance testing.

Deakin are involved in several key partnerships with local industry including:

  • The Centre for Stamping Technology and Automotive Manufacturing Processes (STAMP) with the Ford Motor Company
  • The Centre for Ferrous and Aluminium Solidification Technology (FAST) with the Ford Motor Company
  • Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Automotive Technology (AUTOCRC) with GM Holden and several other automotive suppliers

Improvement of stamping processes

Stamping is the main manufacturing method for body structures for the automotive industry. Current automotive research areas at Deakin on stamping processes include:

  • Rapid tooling development
  • Dimensional control of stamped components
  • Lubrication systems

Improvement of casting processes

Casting is the main manufacturing method for power and drive-train applications (such as engine blocks) for the automotive industry. Current research areas at Deakin on casting processes include:

  • Defects in iron castings
  • Defects in water jacket cores

Computer Simulation in the Automotive Industry

The use of finite element modelling to design or evaluate the performance of a tool or component can save considerable time and money in the automotive industry. Current research areas at Deakin using computer simulation include:

  • Finite element analysis of sheet metal forming
  • Formability, springback and wear simulation for AHSS
  • Determination and characterisation of sheet metal robustness via simulation
  • Modelling material behaviour for crash simulations

Research Equipment:

Erichsen sheet metal forming tester
Electron microscopes
Tensile and wear testing frame
Fatigue testing frame
Workstations with Hyperform, Autoform, Dynaform and Abaqus FEA software
Ultra-sonic thickness gauge

Project Examples

Analysis of Robustness and Variation in Sheet Metal Forming - T. de Souza

A new cheap technology for magnesium metal foam production - M. Barnett and C. Wen

CAE Crash Analysis and Development of Automotive Lightweight Structures - P. Collins

Deformation behaviour of ultrafine grained materials (UFG) materials - S. Melekjani

The Investigation of Tool Wear in Forming of Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS) - M. Weiss

FEM Analysis of Contact Pressure & Wear in Sheet Metal Forming - M. Pereira

Material Characterization for Crash Simulations - J. Mullins

Modeling of tool wear in Trim Dies for AHSS - R. Rafiee

Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

19th February 2012