Deakin Digital Design and Engineering Centre

The Deakin Digital Design and Engineering Centre (3DEC) was established to lead the way in creating holistic, product-focused digital design and engineering solutions. The centre focuses on integrating 3D digital technologies, developing innovative applications and using technology to improve social outcomes for the community.

Adapting to digital transformation

Major industrial revolutions have built the foundations of the modern age. These revolutions transformed economies, but also societies, with centralised manufacturing creating high-density cities, and changed working conditions across the economy. At this time, another major industrial revolution is underway, with information technology at its core.

Industry 4.0 is an information revolution where digital transformation is gaining pace. Smart sensors enable the tracking and data monitoring of myriad of interconnected products and services, while the cloud, analytics and artificial intelligence combines with rapid processing power to allow for real-time communication across networks.

Our research goals

Deakin’s Digital Design and Engineering Centre (3DEC) responds to this digital disruption by combining design and engineering innovation with cutting-edge digital fabrication and sensor technology expertise. This collaboration is based on three core values:

  1. integrating multi-disciplinary ingenuity
  2. people-centred solutions
  3. improving social, economic and environmental outcomes through digital technology innovations.

3DEC applies these principals to key challenges facing Australia today: digital transformation in health and society, digital disruption in manufacturing and digital innovation in infrastructure.

Our labs

3DEC comes together across a range of project teams and labs, from visualisation and design through to developing, testing and manufacturing. Find out more about each of our labs.

Advanced Manufacturing and Simulation Lab

The Advanced Manufacturing and Simulation Lab leads research into process modelling, material behaviour prediction and industry 4.0. They're known globally for developing cutting-edge sheet forming techniques, tool wear analysis, additive manufacturing and the manufacture of carbon fibre parts.

The lab aims to optimise manufacturing processes through a better understanding of the process and its associated materials, including developing several sensors and systems to monitor the state of the manufacturing process. The lab's vision is to develop the production of lighter weight parts using advanced metals, fibrous materials and hybrid materials using the latest cutting-edge manufacturing processes.

For more information, please contact Professor Bernard Rolfe.

CADET Virtual Reality Training and Simulation Research Lab

The CADET Virtual Reality Training and Simulation Research Lab leads cutting-edge research into virtual reality training and simulation, and are leaders in advanced human–computer interaction (HCI) techniques and technologies for virtual reality. It has a range of active research collaborations with groups both internal and external to Deakin, and is often invited to provide thought leadership on applications of virtual reality training and simulation.

The lab has a strong track record of undertaking externally funded research projects with industry partners across a range of different domains including health, industrial training, education and energy. It is uniquely positioned to be able to do this by leveraging research strengths in engineering and advanced mechatronics to make significant contributions in the field of virtual reality training and simulation. In many cases these projects result in the realisation of new technology not previously available.

For more information, please contact Associate Professor Ben Horan.

Design for Additive Manufacturing Lab

The Design for Additive Manufacturing Lab uses cutting-edge additive manufacturing and digitally focused technologies, combined with a design-based engineering philosophy, to provide human-centred solutions to current and future societal challenges. The lab leads research in areas including digital and distributed manufacturing and product design, personalised design for health and ability, and sociocultural, economic and environmental sustainability.

The lab's goal is to proactively support the revitalisation of personal and community identity in a digital era using connected technologies to improve economic and physical independence in disenfranchised communities. It also aims to empower individuals with affordable health and wellbeing, and enhanced technological and economic participation.

For more information, please contact Professor Jennifer Loy.

4D Printing Lab

The 4D Printing Lab is the pioneering research group in Australia incorporating 3D printing into soft robots and actuators. 4D printing involves assembling stimuli-responsive materials (for example, polymers, alloys, hydrogels, ceramics and composites), incorporating their functions into a single printed construct. The fourth dimension refers to dynamic evolution of the 3D-printed structure over time in response to controlled stimuli, for example heat (pre-strain), electromagnetic radiations (Infrared, IR), ohmic parameters (current and voltage) and pH.

The lab leads research addressing the challenges associated with 4D printing technology and soft robotics, and is exploring potential applications in various sectors such as engineering, agriculture, textiles and health.

For more information, please contact Associate Professor Akif Kaynak.

Infrastructure Futures Lab

The Infrastructure Futures Lab is an interdisciplinary collaboration of academics working to understand Infrastructure 4.0 as cyber-human-physical systems, and to support infrastructure organisations to successfully undertake the digital transformation that is occurring globally.

The lab focuses on the value of data, a framework for cyber-human-physical systems and modelling and understanding the complexities of the digital transformation in infrastructure. This digital transformation will enable better communication and information with customers and community, while supporting better decision-making, security for infrastructure data, strategic development and management of physical and financial resources.

The Infrastructure Futures Lab currently leads research in collaboration with the water industry in Australia, seeking to develop the foundations for the future of the Water Infrastructure 4.0.

For more information, please contact Professor Carol Boyle.

Metal Additive Manufacturing Processes Lab

The Metal Additive Manufacturing Processes Lab aims to discover, develop and bring to market advanced materials and provide integrated manufacturing solutions to the aerospace, automotive, healthcare, defence and energy industries. Driven by the critical market demand and urgent need of revitalising Australia's manufacturing sector, their fundamental and applied research focuses on high value-added metal additive manufacturing (AM), novel materials design and synthesis, and lightweight structures.

The lab utilises state-of-the-art AM technologies and advanced characterisation techniques to lead advances in process and microstructural control, new materials for AM, new AM processes for rapid alloy design and design for AM. Specific research activities include laser AM of titanium alloys and functionally graded titanium matrix composites, design and additive manufacturing of lightweight near-zero thermal expansion materials and structures, and additive manufacturing of super-elastic NiTi and high-temperature titanium aluminides.

For more information, please contact Associate Professor Wei Xu.

Smart Materials Lab

The Smart Materials Lab brings together world-class expertise in applied particle engineering, powder technology and allied materials and aerosol science. The lab's research focuses on applying this expertise in areas of advanced manufacturing, sustainable technologies and the circular economy, and supporting collaborative research across many areas in aerosol science, materials performance, drug delivery and advanced fibre research. The lab hosts extensive pilot scale powder processing facilities, an extensive range of powder and material characterisation facilities and state-of-the-art additive manufacturing (AM) systems.

Current research areas focus on the application of particle engineering and computational modelling to enhance the performance and applications of AM, particle engineering applications for advanced materials, and powder characterisation research and development. Specific research activities include particle design of pharmaceuticals for AM of next-generation drug delivery, innovative additive manufactured smart photoelastic particles for enhanced process diagnostic understanding, design of novel nano-structured natural fibres for enhanced composite design, and powder compaction (and granular segregation) behaviour to enhance industrial process optimisation.

For more information, please contact Professor David Morton.

Computational Structures Lab

The Computational Structures Lab is a leader in developing nonlinear complex numerical models to investigate wide ranging structural engineering challenges. Research areas include structural stability and thin-walled structures, composite structures, bio-composite materials (for example, timber and bamboo) and structures, prefabricated systems and topology optimisation.

The lab uses advanced simulation for reverse engineering, in combination with additive manufacturing, to design efficient components for various structural applications. Its expertise in topology optimisation has been used successfully to enhance the efficiency of structural components, as well as to reduce weight and material cost. The lab has also developed advanced numerical models to replicate the complex response of composite and bio-composite materials to capture accurate failure modes under different types of loading.

The Computational Structures Lab supports collaborative research, frequently using advanced modelling techniques to enhance the product design process, and employ in-house 3D printing facilities to build and test prototypes for further refining complex structural components.

For more information, please contact Associate Professor Mahmud Ashraf.

Smart Sensors Lab

The Smart Sensors Lab leads research within wireless networking, Internet of Things (IoT) and system theoretic solutions aimed at biomedical applications in real-world settings. The lab focuses primarily on rehabilitation and assistive device design for biomedical applications, with strengths in IoT, system theoretic solutions to bio-mechanic motion capture, integrated and embedded system design, robust estimation, and human motion capture, filtering and analytics.

The lab collaborates with major industry and government research partners, and addresses the real need in the area of rehabilitation and assistive devices.

For more information, please contact Professor Pubudu Pathirana.


Our research teams utilise a number of our design and product realisation spaces and state-of-the-art equipment and technologies, which are some of the most advanced and future-focused systems and spaces in Australia.

Find out more about our facilities

Contact us

For more information about 3DEC, please contact Professor Bernard Rolfe.

If you're interested in undertaking research studies with us, please contact one of our labs or Professor Rolfe to discuss a potential topic of interest. You can also read our information about being a research degree student at Deakin.

Learn more about becoming a research student