Research examines additive manufacturing opportunities for Australian agriculture

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A new report has found that agricultural industries could benefit from adopting 3D printing, although there are limitations such as a lack of well-known examples and concerns about the strength and durability of printed parts. .

Additive Manufacturing Opportunities for Australia’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Sectors was released by AgriFutures Australia on Wednesday.

He found that on-demand production of spare parts (due to breakage or obsolescence) offered an immediate opportunity.

A medium-term investment opportunity for companies was in “tailor-made or semi-tailor-made application areas” as well as the training necessary for this.

“Thinking differently about product design and distribution will support new opportunities outside of traditional global manufacturers and distributors,” lead author Dr. Lee Clemon said in a statement.

The report states that the main barrier to adoption in both on-farm and on-ship situations was lack of knowledge and experience, “in part because there are few, if any, suppliers in the agricultural sector,” the report said.

Another limiter concerned the reliability of printed components in harsh environments.

Case studies cited include CNH Industrial, parent company of machinery brands Iveco, New Holland and Case IH, which introduced 3D printing into its operations in 2019 to produce components and spare parts. All products were printed locally and on demand within 24-36 hours of ordering, with faster turnaround times, reduced warehousing overhead and other benefits.

“Our resourceful producers can customize tools for their operations or replace parts either by working with a technology provider or using an on-site machine. We have seen examples of shovel handles, food carriers and fruit pickers; many of these home-made objects are available through online open-source networks for individual use,” Clemon said.

“Short-term replacements and long-term parts are made using 3D printing. Airbus has been using 3D printed media on aircraft since at least 2014. If a highly regulated industry like aviation is using it, then I’m sure we can do the same here on the ground.

The report can be read here.

Photo: istockphoto

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