RMIT Graduate Receives Award For 3D Printed Steel Tools That Cut Titanium

- Mar 05, 2019-

At the Avalon International Airshow, RMIT University PhD candidate Jimmy Toton won the 2019 Young Defence Innovator Award and received a $15,000 prize.

Toton’s work involves demonstrating how effective 3D printed steel can be for producing tools to cut titanium. His research was conducted with the Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) and industry partner Sutton Tools at RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct.

The reason for Toton’s work is that cutting metals used in the Defence and Aerospace industry is currently no easy feat due to the required metal strength. Therefore, high quality tools are needed and are usually very expensive.

It’s believed that Toton’s work is the first demonstration of 3D printed steel tools cutting titanium alloys better than conventional steel options. “Now that we’ve shown what’s possible, the full potential of 3D printing can start being applied to this industry, where it could improve productivity and tool life while reducing cost,” said Toton.

Saving Money for Defence and Aerospace Manufacturers

By 3D printing high strength cutting tools, their shape can be extremely complex while not compromising on strength. Toton believes that, as a result, both time and money will be saved for the manufacturers.

Using Laser Metal Deposition technology, Toton makes tools from a carbon-free iron, cobalt, molybdenum (FeCoMo) based alloy of maraging steel which boasts properties superior to high-speed steel (commonly used in cutting tools.)

“Manufacturers need to take full advantage of these new opportunities to become or remain competitive, especially in cases where manufacturing costs are high,” said Toton, adding, “There is a real opportunity now to be leading with this technology.”

Toton is now working on a print-to-order capability for advanced manufacturing supply chains in Australia. DMTC Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mark Hodge believes this work could help position Australian companies favorably to win work in global supply chains.