Additive manufacturing utilises microscopy services

First published: 20/08/2013

Updated at: 06/12/2013 at 10:31 am

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”. Helen Keller

When it comes to solutions that transform the future, collaboration is paramount. Researchers from a wide variety of discipline areas come to RMIT University Microscopy and Micro-analysis Facility (RMMF) to research and test compounds as diverse as chocolate, aluminium, fabrics, and biological or plant material.

One recent collaboration has been between the Advanced Manufacturing Precinct at RMIT and RMMF to test titanium alloys for prosthetic implants.

The RMMF has six electron microscopes and several other major analytical instruments such as a Thermo K-alpha X-ray Photo electron Spectrometer (XPS) and has open access for researchers and industry who have applicable projects.

And the facility has just registered its 1000th user since it was established in the year 2000. Senior research fellow and materials scientist from the advanced manufacturing precinct at RMIT University Dr Wei Xu, works on the mechanical performance of titanium and aluminium alloys and composites for aerospace, automotive and biomedical applications.

He uses additive manufacturing (3D-printing) techniques and the Hysitron nanomechanical testing instrument (Ti-950 TriboIndenter) in the RMMF to measure the hardness of his 3D printed Titanium sample.

‘My primary interest is to manipulate microstructure and to trace deformation-induced phase transformations. I then analyse the localised mechanical behaviour of individual phases using the advanced microscopy capabilities at RMMF,” explains Dr Xu.

Manager of the RMMF facility, Phil Francis, said “The RMIT Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility provides excellent electron microscopy facilities, and really helps researchers utilise the best techniques to achieve their research goals.”

“The facility is also available to external users and staff is on hand to assist researchers in best practice techniques for their research to get the best results.

Staff at the facility have a diversity of materials backgrounds with strong emphasis on solid state/surface physics and materials engineering, and are involved in characterisation of surfaces, bulk and interfaces and their transformation during thermo-mechanical processing. With the recent appointment of a full time electron microscopist, Dr. Matthew Field, the RMMF is looking to extend its expertise to include more biological research projects.

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