New 3D titanium cutting tool wins innovation prize

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A PhD student has recently won a $15,000 prize at the Avalon International Airshow for being crowned 2019 Young Defence Innovator. This award was given in recognition of Jimmy Toton’s titanium cutting tool, which can be used in vital roles in the defence and aerospace industries.

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The innovative research

The research was undertaken with the Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) and was a collaboration with industry partner Sutton Tools. The project took place at the RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct and the research has impressed experts across the industry.

The main problem in developing cutting tools for titanium is that the material is so strong to withstand forces in the aeronautical industry.

The research from Toton demonstrated 3D printed steel tools with the strength to sever titanium alloys in a better way than the regular steel tools previously used.

Toton and team created the cutters using Laser Metal Deposition technology. This innovative idea feeds a laser beam with a metal powder which then solidifies at the edge and the 3D item is created slowly layer upon layer. This means that other objects can be created with complicated structures both internally and externally.

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Challenges and future plans

There were many difficulties in allowing the layers to ‘print’ as parts without cracks but Toton and team eventually managed to create the cutting tool that wowed judges and took home the coveted award.

Another important element of any project like this using metals is to ensure the project uses suitable metal bonding adhesive. There are many places to purchase these types of adhesive, such as and other online stockists.

The research has paved the way for more developments as we now know the potential for this type of 3D printing. This is also highly attractive as a way of reducing costs.

Many people believe that 3D printing has the potential to change the world in many ways, including in the technology industry, healthcare industry and automotive industry. As this recent award shows, there are many ways we can use 3D technology.

Toton is currently working on a project to establish a ‘print-to-order’ option for the manufacturing supply chains across Australia. This innovation will result in many cost saving measures for the industry and it is hoped the 3D printing development will be replicated in other areas.

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