Keech Australia has been invited by German submarine manufacturer ThyssenKrupp to be part of its bid to supply the Australian Navy with the subs that will replace the Collins Class from 2025 onwards.
Keech CEO Dr Herbert Hermens says ThyssenKrupp was interested in the Bendigo-‐‑ based company’s use of advanced manufacturing principles, in particular 3D technology.
“We’ve put an enormous investment into 3D printing technologies, with eight machines now that we use to produce a variety of components for a number of industries including defence.
“Digital manufacturing using 3D printers is a good fit for defence due to the challenges of weight and space.
“With that being said, advanced manufacturing is more than 3D printing; it is centred on sharing information and making sure information flows right through the whole production chain. It refers to process development, that is key.”
Globally, Keech is at the forefront of using 3D printing in manufacturing production thanks to a partnership with the CSIRO. It is now able to print in high-‐‑grade metals like titanium and is continuing to invest in materials development.
“Materials development is the new frontier – materials cost as opposed to production cost becomes the primary determinant of unit price because ultimately the notion of the traditional factory as the production house becomes redundant when you are talking about printing products.”
Dr Hermens explains that 3D printing enables Keech to present a better value proposition to the companies it works with.
If the bid is successful, many more printers, engineers and designers will be required in a boost for Australian jobs. ThyssenKrupp is one of three contenders for the lucrative contract to design and build up to 12 diesel-‐‑electric submarines, alongside French and Japanese bidders.
In recent years Keech has won a slew of accolades for its investment in innovation, research and product development, including recognition on the BRW 50 Most Innovative Companies list for three consecutive years.