Welding research to secure the future of Australian manufacturing

Welding research to secure the future of Australian manufacturing

Australia must combine leading university research and transfer developing technology and skills to industry to remain competitive in manufacturing, an international research forum hosted by UOW was told.

Visiting colloquium researchers are shown the robotic fabrication and welding capabilities at the UOW Welding Engineering Research Group facilities.

UOW, a national leader in the fields of welding technologies and materials development, recently hosted the 4th IIW Welding Research & Collaboration Colloquium, organised by the Welding Technology Institute of Australia (WTIA), a member of the 57-country International Institute of Welding (IIW).

More than 85 delegates from 12 countries, including 63 Australian welding experts gathered at the colloquium to foster international research collaboration in welding related areas.

The colloquium began with an overview of research capabilities in Australia and abroad. The nine subsequent sessions, each chaired by a prominent industrial or research representative, focussed on topics such as welding processes, modelling, applications, additive manufacturing, joint manufacture, automation, joining processes, and surface treatment.

WTIA Industry Advocate and Emeritus CEO Chris Smallbone said welding was a critical part of building and maintaining infrastructure in almost every industry sector, ranging from education to energy supply and national defence.

“Welding technologies, whether basic or sophisticated, and the people skilled in these fields, are fundamental to improved quality of life for all,” he said.

“In Australia we can’t compete with the mass production based on cheap labour available overseas but we can create more employment opportunities by leveraging technological progress to improve our manufacturing output.

“We are heavily reliant on imported welded products and components and we don’t want to be further stripped of our manufacturing and fabrication capabilities.”

WTIA's Chris Smallbone addresses the welding research and collaboration colloquium.

UOW’s Welding Engineering Research Group (WERG) has developed robotic welding processes, welding of high strength steels for military applications and expertise in energy pipeline construction in partnership with government and industry groups.

“A vital component of welding capability is research and collaboration between the top Australian and international institutions, and this is the first time in many years the best researchers from around have all been in the one room in Australia,” Emeritus Professor of Materials, Welding and Joining John Norrish said.

“We also have to make that research and technology easily available to industry so our manufacturers apply it consistently and competently. That will help them remain competitive in a global market.

“We’ve shown through our partnership with the Defence Materials Technology Centre that research-led innovation, such as the automated and robotic fabrication and welding techniques, provides a competitive edge for partner organisations.

“Funding from collaborative centres such as DMTC and Energy Pipelines CRC has enabled the welding and applied automation research groups at UOW to attract top quality research students, support a group of top academic researchers and obtain additional research projects from industry and government in Australia and overseas.”

The Colloquium generated significant interest in further collaboration from both international and national delegates and the team are busy following up on these inquiries, Professor Norrish said.

Professor Americo Scotti, Chairman of the IIW Study Group on International Research Collaboration; said: “I would like to thank the organisers for the presentations and engagement with our international guests, which made the recent colloquium such a success.”

The three-day event was sponsored by WTIA, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), BOC and UOW.