Research and Teaching Facilities
The School has developed extensive and advanced research facilities to support its research efforts. Research facilities, located at RMIT’s Bundoora East and City campuses, include:
Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory
Researchers in the CAD/CAM laboratory have direct access to 3D CAD software such as Solid Works and Catia for developing their part models. CAM software such as MasterCam and EdgeCam are available to convert these part models to appropriate CNC control programs. The CNC laboratory has a number of three and four-axis machining centres, two and six-axis turning centres, CNC wire cutting machines and a CNC Electric Discharge Machine that will accept the CNC programs to make the components.
In conjunction with the Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory researchers can also build factory and system models in a CAD area. These models can be used to analyse the efficiency of the manufacturing process, visualise the manufacturing system in operations and evaluate different management strategies in the virtual environment. The results can be verified by experimentation with the CNC machines and robots in the Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory.
A new development in the Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory is the development of an intelligent plastic injection molding manufacturing cell. The cell has an industry grade gantry robot that serves the molding machine as well as other auxiliary equipment in its large working envelope. A group of research students have been working continuously on this cell to improve its capability.
Welding robot used by research students to investigate and program by using Robot Studio new manufacturing processes.
3 axis CNC machining centre operated by one of the school's technical staff.
The School has a number of recirculating and flow-through wind tunnels for aerodynamics research work. The Industrial Wind Tunnel has a maximum test speed of about 140 km/h and a test section 3m wide, 2 m high and 9m long. It is used for undergraduate experiments, postgraduate research and commercial testing. Commercial work includes development of new cars (forces, moments and noise, both in model and full-scale) for the Automotive Industry, engine and brake cooling tests and noise and vibration work on automotive components.
Research student working on the effects of high turbulence levels on small aircraft using the school’s 3m wide x 2m high x 9m long test section, industrial wind tunnel.
Research work on a twin engine ground effect vehicle using the school’s 2m wide x 1.6m long test section, Aerospace wind tunnel, which has a maximum speed of 150km/h.
Students undertaking research in propulsion and engine management have access to these laboratories as well as to dynamometers and a racing vehicle. This area of research, including design of engine performance, is supported by the School's FSAE racing team. The School has three engine dynamometers - 80KW, 175KW and 600KW -, a vehicle dynamometer, a gas turbine test rig and a vehicle hoist.
Designed and built vehicles from previous years. (Each year our Automotive research students design and build a FSAE racing vehicle to compete in the FSAE Competition with other universities.)
Research student investigates the effects of using alternative fuels on a diesel engine. This project is designed to be used in third world countries.
CAD / CFD / CAE Engineering Laboratory
Our researchers have access to a fully equipped CAElab with computer-aided design (CAD) tools and computer simulation facilities. Computer software and programs used include SolidWorks and Catia (CAD), WorkingModel and CosmosWorks (CAE), ANSYS-FLUENT & ANSYS-CFX (CFD), CamWorks and EdgeCAm (CAM).
Research students working on new design concepts using a number of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software packages.
Composite and Polymer Laboratory
For composites and polymer research work the School has a 1m diameter 300psi autoclave, and an injection stretch molding machine. Injection Stretch Blow Molding (ISBM) is used in the production of bottles for foodstuffs, beverages and chemicals. The acquisition of this system was prompted by the high growth rate of plastics packaging production. It complements polymer characterisation and processing facilities available in other areas of RMIT, and places the School in a frontier position in a fast-developing area of advanced plastics manufacturing. The School also has a computer-controlled hot-bonding machine and a 3-axis router for the manufacture of composite moulds.
One metre diameter, 300psi capacity autoclave. The autoclave is being prepared for a laminar cure for a research student, by a member of the technical staff team.
A member of the technical staff, setting parameters on the Injection Stretch Moulding machine for research students to investigate different manufacturing processes for recycled plastic materials.
Researchers have access to testing machines including a Laser Vibrometer, Shock absorber Dyno, a High-speed Camera and an acoustics chamber with software systems such as B&K Pulse, ME Scope and OROS. The data-acquisition equipment is used by our research students for dynamics research work.
Research student using Scanning Vibrometer to measure and analyse the dynamics characteristics of a vehicle bonnet.
Research investigation into the stiffness characteristics of a snowboard. The research is conducted using a dynamic simulation test rig.
Material Testing Laboratory
The School has a range of testing machines from 3KN, 100KN and 250KN computer servo-control testing machines, 10KN and 50KN mechanical-controlled, instrumented impacting machines and Sharpie and Izod testing machines. It also has "C" scanning and "A" scanning testing machines, a number of polishing machines as well as an optical microscope.
Fatigue research into composites with fibre optics bonded to the underside of the test specimen and tested on a four point bend test rig.
Research students investigate the buckling effects of three different lengths of “S” type aluminium columns.
The measurements laboratory is equipped with the traditional metrology equipment as well as laser interferometers for more accurate dimensional assessments. Our researchers can carry out fine measurements in an air-conditioned laboratory environment which supports their research requirements.
Coordinating measuring machine used by research students to accurately measure manufactured product components.
Laser interfermoter used by research students for accurate dimensional assessments.
The newly developed mechatronics laboratory has the latest set of automated process control work situations which are integrated through a local area network. The work stations are re-configurable and separately controlled by its own programmable controller so that research in integration strategies and system organisation can be done.
The system can be further simulated on computer with the complete signal emulation interface available for direct model based control investigation. The laboratory also has four mobile robots that can be equipped to explore other manufacturing research topics such as automated guided vehicles, and automated storage and retrieval. The laboratory is supported by a strong back up of electronic instruments and LabView graphical programming system.
Research students using integrated PLC for process and factory simulation plant
Research students setting up an automated process control integrated through a local area network.
Rapid Prototyping Facility
The School has a computer-controlled Rapid Prototyping machine that produces 3D models, and a 3D Co-ordinating measuring machine and optical scanning device, which is used for reverse engineering.
Optical scanning device is used for reverse engineering and integrated through a local area network.
Rapid prototyping machine loaded with Magic 3D software. This machine produces 3D working models.
Thermodynamics and Renewable Energy Laboratories
The School has a number of PhD research experimental test rigs, two of which are used to investigate the feasibility of producing potable water from seawater or grey water, by using renewable energy from low-temperature solar thermal sources, including a solar pond.
Other test rigs investigate the use of low-cost water turbines to produce power for remote areas. These rigs are supported in the laboratory by equipment such as a heat-transfer bench, an evaporative cooling system, a steam generator and a thermosyphon Rankine engine.
Researchers are also investigating the production of hydrogen for use as fuel. Production using solar energy and wind energy is being investigated as well as storage and heat transfer in production. This research is supported by two solar ponds, wind turbines and an array of solar panels and heat tubes.
A Researcher, with assistance of technical staff, checks the data on the Combine Power and Desalination CPD plant. This CPD plant desalinates water and produces up to 4Kw of power per hour.
Solar panels in the renewable energy laboratory where researchers investigate alternative and renewable energy projects.