UniSA Precision Engineering Centre launches with $10M investment in advanced optics

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Michael Harding, DSTG Optics Capability Leader, in the new centre. Image credit: UniSA

The University of South Australia is set to open the Precision Engineering Centre, a $10 million facility showcasing new advanced optics capabilities that aim to revolutionise a range of industries.

Officially opening on Wednesday, the centre is poised to feature state-of-the-art lab-on-a-chip technology, micro and nano-machining equipment, advanced sensing, and precision optics expertise.

The hub boasts potential applications spanning defence, health, manufacturing, mining, clean energy, water security, space, and agriculture, the university said in a news release.

The Precision Engineering Centre is a collaboration spanning over a decade between the SA Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF-SA) and the Research Engineering (RE) team at the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG).

It also stands as the sole facility of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere positioning Australia at the forefront of advanced manufacturing, particularly in defence.

Notable among its recent accomplishments is the creation of Australia’s largest diamond-turned mirror, produced with a multi-axis, ultra-precision machining system.

Additionally, the facility has developed minuscule sensors contributing to the advancement of South Australia’s thriving advanced manufacturing sector.

UniSA’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington, emphasised the institution’s pride in contributing to Australia’s defence manufacturing sovereignty through the DSTG’s Capital Refresh Program.

“The collaboration extends well beyond any physical infrastructure. It encompasses top-tier technical expertise and the cultivation of emerging talent, with a mutual desire to be trailblazers,” the professor noted.

Meanwhile, DSTG RE Program Leader Ben Barona hailed the partnership as positioning South Australia as a global leader in innovative manufacturing.

“Combining ANFF-SA’s expertise and capabilities with DSTG’s science and technology applications, we’ve developed a truly integrated fabrication and testing capability with the Precision Engineering Centre,” Barona remarked.

He added this integration opens avenues for novel technologies and significant advancements in space optics and complex rapid prototyping.

The centre, backed by UniSA and both State and Federal Governments, is scheduled for an official inauguration at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus tomorrow, 13 December.