+61 3 9413 9000


CSIRO's New Metal Printing Capability

The rise of 3D printing with plastics has revolutionised Melbourne’s product design and prototyping industry in the last decade. CSIRO’s additive metal manufacturing facility at Lab 22 in Clayton, Victoria is set to deliver the next wave of innovation – Metal 3D printing

By developing new material production methods, collaborating on projects and providing facilities to try different 3D printing systems before you buy, CSIRO is breaking down barriers to access new manufacturing technology.

Engineers at Bayly Group recently took a tour of Lab 22 and are looking forward to having the opportunity to test its capabilities.

Design Potential

Creating parts with fine details, or small intricate structures is much easier using metal 3D printing, allowing existing parts to be redesigned to be much lighter in weight while conserving strength. For example, a solid part with a honeycomb structure inside can be printed. This is not possible using traditional methods.

Metal 3D printing is also useful for custom made, or low volume metal parts like prosthetics.
CSIRO recently made a 3D printed rib cage for a cancer patient with Melbourne-based medical device company Anatomics.

The advantages of 3D printing with plastics also apply when working with metals..
Rapid prototyping allows parts to be tested, reviewed and refined quickly, cutting down development time. Multiple parts and fasteners can be easily combined into one part then optimised. Parts printed from CAD are geometrically reliable. It’s much easier to know what you’re getting, and there are no joins like with complex machined prototypes.

New Manufacturing Methods

This new type of printing uses additive metal manufacturing. This process involves adding material to create a part, rather than removing it, as in traditional metal machining. Metal 3D printing uses a number of different methods.

Metallic powder can be used build a part layer by layer. Some printers such as the Arcam and Concept Laser printers make a thin layer of metal powder, then sections of the powder layer are melted into solid metal. Other printers like the Optomec printer deposit the powder and melt it directly on the area required. Additional layers are built up until the part is completed.
Metal 3D printing is still expensive. The cost of raw material, system setup and maintenance are significant barriers to industry. However, CSIRO has developed a novel method to produce high quality titanium powder more efficiently and at a lower production cost. The industry is already innovating to become more accessible, and the process is only going to become cheaper.

Arcam Electron Beam Melting (EBM) metal 3D printer

The EBM’s powder bed is maintained in a vacuum at a set temperature, keeping the finished part microstructure free from residual stresses and martensitic structures.

Standard Arcam supplied titanium alloy, nickel alloys and cobalt chrome are available. These materials are appropriate for orthopedic implants and aerospace applications. The EBM printer’s build envelope (the volume available for part building) is 200 x 200 x 180 mm.

Concept Laser LaserCUSING® metal 3D printer

The LaserCUSING® printer specialises in producing high-precision parts.
LaserCUSING® parts have a smoother surface finish than EBM parts, but the process is slower.
A wide range of materials are available – high-grade steel alloys, tool steels, aluminium alloys, titanium alloys, cobalt-chromium alloys and nickel-based superalloys, gold and silver. The LaserCUSING® printer’s build envelope is 250 x 250 x 280 mm.

Optomec LENS MR-7 multi-material metal 3D printer

The Optomec printer is especially useful for repairing existing parts, or fabricating high performance parts in single or multiple materials.
Materials available include titanium, nickel, tool steel, stainless steel, cobalt, aluminium, copper and other refractories and composites. Different material powders can be used in a single print. Material gradients, unusual material mixes and different material layers are all possible. The Optomec printer’s build envelope is 300 x 300 x 300 mm.


If you are interested in the potential of metal 3D printing or have a product that could benefit from the technology then give us a call in Melbourne on (03) 9413 9000, or email Mark at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Don't miss out. Sign up for our newsletter now!

CSIRO -  Industrial Design Melbourne

A metal heal implant printed using CSIRO's metal printing technology.
CSIRO_Metal_Part_Handling - Product Design Melbourne

A scientist handles a printed 3D object from behind safety glass.

  CSIRO_Printed_Jet_Engine - Product Design Melbourne

This jet engine was produced using metal 3D printing.