20 February 2017, Written by Business News Australia

AUSTRALIA for the first time has the capacity to produce carbon fibre from scratch and at scale, following the launch of a wet spinning line at Deakin University's Waurn Ponds campus, outside of Geelong.

The university worked alongside the CSIRO and an Italian manufacturer to develop the machine, which was considered the "missing link" in Australia's carbon fibre capability.

Carbon fibre combines high rigidity, tensile strength and chemical resistance with low weight and is increasingly used in aerospace, civil engineering, the military, cars, and in competitive sports as a replacement for traditional materials including steel.

CSIRO is one of only a handful of producers worldwide that can create carbon fibre from scratch, and it is stronger and of a higher quality than its competitors.
Director of CSIRO Future Industries, Dr Anita Hill, says the development of the wet spinning line is an important milestone.

"This facility means Australia can carry out research across the whole carbon fibre value chain: from molecules, to polymers, to fibre, to finished composite parts," Dr Hill said.

"Together with Deakin, we've created something that could disrupt the entire carbon fibre manufacturing industry."

Deakin University and the CSIRO have a longstanding relationship and recently signed a new strategic relationship agreement.

"Together, we're conducting industry focussed research with a profound and lasting impact, from the communities we serve, through to the world," says Deakin University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jane den Hollander.

Deakin is also working alongside Australia's largest commercial advanced composites manufacturer, Quickstep (ASX: QHL), which in 2015 established its automotive division and global research and development centre at the University.

The wet spinning line machinery takes a sticky mix of precursor chemicals and turns it into five hundred individual strands of fibre, each thinner than a human hair.

They're then wound onto a spool to create a tape and taken next door to the massive carbonisation ovens to create the finished carbon fibre.

The CSIRO/ Deakin wet spinning line was custom built by an Italian company with input from the organisations' own researchers.

The company liked the design so much it made another for its own factory and the CSIRO/ Deakin machine has been described as "the Ferrari of wet spinning lines".

Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science the Honourable Craig Laundy MP officially launched the facility.

"This is a great example of how collaboration in the Australian research sector can accelerate research, lead innovation and provide new job opportunities," Mr Laundy said.

"Geelong already has a global reputation for industrial innovation. Initiatives such as this enhance that standing."

Business News Australia
Author: Business News Australia





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