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Committee for Geelong's Weekly Addy Opinion Piece - CSIRO

Building stronger connections between CSIRO scientists and local companies is creating real opportunities for innovation in Geelong's manufacturing sector.  As well as helping manufacturers connect with local research and development, CSIRO has national and international connections that can open markets and bring international expertise into our region.

To strengthen these connections, a group of Committee for Geelong members recently visited the Waurn Ponds laboratories of CSIRO Manufacturing. Many Geelong residents may not realise that CSIRO in Waurn Ponds conducts research, product development, prototyping and testing for Australian and international businesses and government in industrial chemicals, fibres and composites, defence, personal protection, aerospace, automotive, and technical textile industries.  Local people from our region are undertaking exceptional work at this facility, and would like to see their research benefit the community.

The Committee's tour of the site provided a fantastic opportunity to see the carbon fibre processing facilities, fibre and performance testing laboratory, non-wovens machinery, polymer extrusion and textile weaving and knitting (which includes textiles for medical applications), and Australia's only cotton processing mill.  In addition, our members were also introduced to some of the amazing innovations that are made possible thanks to metallic 3D printing being pioneered in CSIRO Manufacturing in Clayton.  CSIRO's metallic 3D printing facility, Lab 22, was opened last November by the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.

Many locals may already be familiar with the world class carbon fibre facility that Deakin University has established at the Waurn Ponds Campus, ensuring Geelong will be at the centre of Australia's carbon fibre industry. Industry partners Carbon Revolution and Quickstep are also based on the Campus, along with CSIRO facilities, attracting investment to the area and creating local jobs. CSIRO, with Deakin, is working to improve fibre quality and the cost of production to strengthen the competiveness of the industry.  CSIRO and Deakin have co-invested in some new equipment, due to be installed in 2016, which will help complete the production process for carbon fibre at the site and bring more improvements to fibre quality. 

Together with partner organisations in the Defence Materials Technology Centre, CSIRO at Waurn Ponds has also been busy delivering innovations in personal protection for our nation's soldiers.  Two key developments include high performance fabrics for use in combat uniforms, to protect against the impact of small particles encountered in explosive events; together with lighter weight 'soft armour' fabric.  Both of these developments utilise the research, development and prototyping facilities at CSIRO, with commercial scale-up conducted in collaboration with industry partners Bruck Textiles and Australian Defence Apparel.

The information gained during the Committee's tour, specifically regarding CSIRO's collaboration with industry, was very useful.  As a result, some of our members have already activated engagement with the CSIRO on potential projects, such as the beneficial re-use of carbon dioxide.  As Geelong transforms, continued investment in future industries will shape a new age of manufacturing bringing jobs, skills, and investment.  Geelong is fortunate to have CSIRO based in our region to continue leading the way on this industry collaboration. 

Rebecca Casson is the Committee for Geelong Chief Executive Officer. Follow the Committee for Geelong on Twitter @Comm4Geelong.



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