World first taking shape

Take a sneak look at the Australian Carbon Fibre Research Facility.

Computer generated image of the new carbon fibre plant.
Computer generated image of the new carbon fibre plant.

The world's first dedicated carbon fibre research facility to be based at Deakin University's Waurn Ponds Campus, is taking shape.

Late last year Deakin reached agreement with Despatch Industries to build the carbon fibre production line on the Waurn Ponds campus, with work to start soon.

These computer generated images show the production line and other aspects of the new facility, known as the Australian Carbon Fibre Research Facility (ACFRF).

The ACFRF will be part of the Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre (AFFRIC).

AFFRIC is a partnership between Deakin University, the CSIRO and the Geelong-based Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (VCAMM).

Having a purpose built carbon fibre research facility will make Deakin a world leader the field.

“At the moment there are some scientists doing lab-scale experiments in carbon fibres and there are others in industry involved production,” Associate Professor Bronwy Fox said.

“They can’t utilise existing carbon fibre production lines for research because it means a loss of production and the lab scale experiments are unable to replicate the tension on the fibre in production.

“We have found a real niche for ourselves at the pilot scale for making carbon fibre where we can do some world-class research.

“This gives us the ability to look at new ways of making carbon fibres as well as developing the next generation of carbon fibres.”

The creation of ACFRF and AFFRIC has attracted huge interest in the Geelong region from overseas.

In February last year, some of the world’s leading researchers in and users of carbon composite fibres attended a conference in Geelong.

These included representatives of Boeing, Lockheed Martin and a Russian consortium.

“Since then, they have continued to keep themselves up to date with developments and we have a global network of supporters,” Associate Professor Fox said.

“They know that what we are doing is real breakthrough, frontier science and they want to be part of it.

“They will be greatly encouraged by the arrival of the Favimat machine, and confirmation of the production line, that we are genuine in our desire to be the hub of future carbon fibre composite research in the world.”

Something else that has Associate Professor Fox excited is the role carbon fibre composites can play in helping with the Geelong region’s transition from old manufacturing industries to modern, high tech new ones.

“I am passionate about the future of manufacturing in the Geelong region so to be involved in the creation of new industry opportunities in my home town is pleasing indeed,” she said.

“The research facility will help bring carbon fibre manufacturing into the region, creating high tech jobs.”

The ACFRF is expected to be operational in 2013.

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