Future fibres hub launched at Deakin

Designing Smarter Technologies

Geelong’s manufacturing past is heading into a new era led by future fibres technology.

The Future Fibres Hub, an Australian Research Council research and development centre, has been launched at Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus.

The Hub is a $13.2 million centre, funded through the Federal Government’s Industrial Transformation Research Program, supported by industry and Deakin. It will lead the development of future fibre-based materials, ranging from short polymer fibres for the medical, textile and industrial sectors to carbon fibre composites for the automotive industry.

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander joined Federal Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson MP to launch the centre within the Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) at Waurn Ponds.

“The Future Fibres Hub will bring together world-leading fibre research and industry experts to create innovations in carbon fibres, nanofibres and high value fibre applications”
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Professor Jane den Hollander Vice-Chancellor Deakin University

“It builds on a strong history of advanced fibres research at Deakin through IFM, and will truly benefit not just our community, but the entire nation by allowing us to develop novel technologies for more sustainable advanced manufacturing of fibre materials and products.

“We are delighted to lead this important project, which will help us to create not just the jobs of the future, but also the materials of the future.

“It will allow us to continue to make important advances in medical procedures, such as human tissue engineering, through to safer clothing for activities like motorcycle racing and better, lighter and cheaper carbon fibre materials for the automotive sector.

“This will help position Australia as a leader in fibres research and development and provide jobs in Geelong.”

The Hub will be at home among Deakin’s advanced manufacturing and innovation precinct, which is already home to several of the world-leading partners in the venture.

Led by Deakin, under the guidance of IFM Director Professor Xungai Wang, the Hub also involves Swinburne University of Technology and five industry partners:

• HeiQ Pty Ltd: Provider of unique functional short polymer fibre materials to the medical, textile and industrial sectors globally;
• Carbon Revolution Pty Ltd: A pioneering manufacturer of one-piece carbon fibre automotive wheels;
• Quickstep Automotive Pty Ltd: Design and development of carbon composites for the automotive industry;
• Draggin Jeans Pty Ltd: World leader in protective denim apparel; and
• Ear Science Institute Australia Inc: A not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the research and treatment of ear and hearing disorders.

The Hub also involves partner investigators from CSIRO, and six international higher education institutions, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Oxford, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwest Switzerland (FHNW), Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), and Tufts University.

Funding includes support for 10 research positions (Research Fellows or Research Engineers) each year for the next five years and another five PhD students.

The initial three research programs are:

• Development of the emerging short polymer fibre and nanofibre industry, with HeiQ;
• Advanced development of high performance carbon fibre reinforced composite materials, particularly for the automotive industry, with Carbon Revolution and Quickstep Automotive; and
• High value fibre applications for fibres with a particular focus on biomedical and textile applications, with the Ear Science Institute Australia and Draggin Jeans.

Institute for Frontier Materials

The Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) is at the forefront of innovation in materials design and engineering research. Our key research areas fall under two main themes: innovative manufacturing technologies and energy efficiency; resource and infrastructure sustainability.