AMTIL has partnered up with the Victorian Government to launch the Additive Manufacturing Hub, a new venture aimed at promoting additive manufacturing technology in Australian, overseen by Alex Kingsbury. Here Alex explains what the AM Hub is and what it aims to achieve.

I don’t need to convince you of the game-changing benefits of the additive manufacturing (AM), do I? If I do, then you need to sign up to the AM Hub so you can see for yourself the great work that is being done right here in Australia.

So what will this AM Hub funding go towards? Firstly, the AM Hub will have a dedicated person, working exclusively on the AM Hub; this will give the program some much needed energy and effort. Second, the AM Hub will have its own website, much like the AMTIL website, but focused on additive manufacturing (and not purple, but orange!). With a comprehensive capability directory, the latest news and events, case studies and information. The new website will be the first port of call for anyone seeking information about additive manufacturing technology.

Lastly, the AM Hub will also deliver the ‘Build It Better’ grant, a voucher program for Victorian businesses looking to investigate additive manufacturing. The grant will give up to $20,000 in matched funding to any Victorian business looking to redesign or reengineer an existing product, or even create a new one. The funding can go towards whatever your business needs most: perhaps that is design help, maybe it’s better understanding the market for your new product, or perhaps it’s simply understanding what the true cost of production is? Whatever the assistance required is entirely up to you.

The AM Hub and the Build It Better grant have come at a critical time for Australia. While the rest of the world is steaming ahead with additive manufacturing, Australia is still dipping its toe in the water. With our highly educated workforce and our excellent manufacturing and design capabilities, Australia is extremely well placed to take advantage of this high-value technology, yet we are still somewhat hanging back.

It’s hard to understand exactly why this is the case; however, I think part of the solution is providing the infrastructure needed to support and grow use of the technology. Potential adopters need to be connected to high-quality information and gain exposure to other businesses who have already invested.

We need a co-ordinated, cohesive approach for the additive manufacturing community to eliminate confusion for people who are searching for information. It should no longer be a case of having had a conversation with the right person at the right time who pointed you in the right direction. This is not a system that works; it is an unsophisticated and ad-hoc approach that is extremely inefficient and will hinder and delay potential adopters.

The ‘tipping point’ for additive manufacturing around the rest of the world was in 2012. This was the point at which additive manufacturing generated its own momentum and reached critical mass. It became the train that you couldn’t stop no matter how hard you tried. We haven’t quite got there in Australia yet. No doubt we are doing very well, but we’re just not quite there at present.

In Australia we are still very much in the realm of the early adopters, where bold people with big ideas are making a bet on the future. These are the businesses that the AM Hub will celebrate over the coming months with our Early Adopter site tours. Early adopters are the nucleus of the additive manufacturing ecosystem. We need to learn from them, and understand how they made additive manufacturing work for them.

I challenge you all to think about whether the Build It Better grant (or indeed, many of the numerous assistance grants that exist in Australia) could help you and your business move into additive manufacturing. Working with experts, you may be able to find that one great application that just fits the value proposition of additive manufacturing perfectly. Some things to consider are: is there a component that would benefit from being light-weighted? Is there an application that requires complex or customised features? Is there a product you have that requires excessive labour for assembly? Do you need access to small volumes of exotic or unusual material for your parts?

These are typically great candidates for re-engineering or redesign to make a suitable case for additive manufacturing. When you start exploring the potential for this technology, so often you start to realise the other benefits too – this is the real sweet spot for additive manufacturing. For example: you need only a small volumes of a particular part so it is more economical to manufacture it additively, but when designing for additive manufacturing, you realise it would also be beneficial to skim some weight off the part, which in turn saves you money and improves the part’s performance.

I believe it is important that Australia explores the full potential of this technology, and I would be disappointed if it was not fully examined due to simple, solvable issues such as a lack of good-quality information. So it is right and it is good that AMTIL and the Victorian Government are stepping in to enable businesses to discover how additive manufacturing may work for them. Together with you, Australian manufacturing businesses that have been at the heart of our nation, will cement our position as a global destination for world-leading additive manufacturing technology.

Membership of the AM Hub is free for all AMTIL members (but not limited to AMTIL members). For more information on the AM Hub, please contact Alex Kingsbury, AM Hub Consultant, on