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Revolutionising mineral separation using additive manufacturing

About the project

Mineral Technologies, a Downer company, is a world-leading minerals processing company known for its ability to provide innovative, cost-effective process solutions. In 2018, they embarked on a three-year research collaboration with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to revolutionise the manufacture of gravity separators, also known as spirals, using additive manufacturing. 

The research team assessed how they could effectively redesign the helically shaped separators, not only to meet current product specifications in shape and material properties, but to also use existing 3D printing technology. After choosing fused deposition modelling (FDM) as their preferred 3D printing method, the team designed and built a bespoke 3D printer capable of manufacturing the precision engineered separators anywhere in the world. Fitted with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, the printer will be monitored via a centralised system which captures key system information such as temperature, pressure and material flow to ensure high quality production.

 

The research team is now planning to embed sensors in the 3D printed separation spirals, enabling Mineral Technologies to monitor the performance of the actual product and obtain valuable insights into equivalent wear and structural characteristics for specific minerals and ore concentrations.

Research partner:
University of Technology Sydney (UTS) 

Duration:
2018-2020

Investment:
$5,68 million

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“Cooperative Research Centres open doors by connecting you with the right people in research and industry. In our case, an introduction to Industry 4.0 and IoT connectivity experts in our sector helped Mineral Technologies fast track our project.

Today, we have a prototype of a bespoke 3D printer fitted with a range of sensors that will allow us to manufacture precision-engineered separation spirals directly on mining sites around the world.”

Alex de Andrade, General Manager, Mineral Technologies