AMPC, Markforged and Konica Minolta have teamed up to work on the model to help red meat processors across Australia to print equipment parts, revolutionising equipment maintenance to help ensure continuous supply of meat products.
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing has been around for about a decade, however new uses for the technology are constantly being discovered. This led AMPC to investigate its potential in meat processing facilities.
In a high-volume environment like a processing plant, parts such as bolts and rollers can wear or break easily. As in any industry time is money and if a part fails the result is reduced productivity and expensive down-time until the part is sourced and replaced.
With 3D printing, the industry can benefit from part replacement, creating and refinement.
Chief executive officer of AMPC, Chris Taylor said meat processors rely on a multitude of equipment, with multiple components, even a small component failure can be a costly exercise.
"The ability to simply print and replace a part could drastically reduce down-time and minimise the need to wait for parts, reducing the chance of supply being at risk," Taylor said.
Konica Minolta's Innovation Product Marketing Manager, Matthew Hunter said the need for sovereign capability for the Australian supply chain coupled with Australian government support for local foods and beverage manufacturing has resulted in organisations looking to adapt to innovative practices.
"Konica Minolta Australia is proud to partner with AMPC in getting this world-first capability off the ground," Hunter said.
The collaboration between the AMPC, Konica Minolta and MarkForged involves a three-year, multifaceted program so that these benefits can be realised at meat processing plants across Australia.
The program will see two mobile non-metal industrial 3D printers (MarkForged X7 carbon fibre 3D printers) shipped to Australian processing plants.
As part of the program, a metal printing 3D industrial unit (metal X system) will be setup at Konica Minolta's Sydney location dedicated for red meat processing part manufacturing.
Plastic prototypes made at each processing location can be sent to this hub to be made from stainless steel and other metals in as little as 24 hours. A red meat 3D database library will ensure all parts are quality controlled.