WELCOME to the regular series of articles on red meat R&D, brought to you by Beef Central and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation. These highlights a range of projects designed to improve the efficiency, productivity, product quality and safety of Australian red meat sold domestically and globally.
All have the ability to help underpin Australia’s unrivaled reputation as the world’s leading exporter of quality beef, lamb and offal. Links to previous articles in the series appear at the bottom of this page.
The Australian Meat Processor Corporation has begun 3D printing trials at red meat processing plants with the delivery and installation of two 3D printers at two plants.
AMPC and Konica Minolta have collaborated to establish an industry-first additive manufacturing (3D printing) service model to help red meat processors across Australia print parts of equipment, revolutionizing machine maintenance. equipment and potentially avoiding long downtimes due to breakdowns.
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has been around since the late 1980s. 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 out or break. With 3D printing, the industry can benefit from the replacement, creation and improvement of parts.
Brian Armstrong, a draftsman and project support officer at the Casino Food Co-op processing plant in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, said the 3D printer was “on a whole new level”.
“It’s really exciting to see what this will mean for the future of spare parts in meat processing plants,” Mr. Armstrong said.
“We’ve already printed a plate-sized ‘gear’. It is currently used in a very harsh environment taking a lot of weight. The equipment contains large drums used for a single process that we perform here. We used the 3D printer to recreate the previous equipment that needed to be replaced.
Casino Food Co-op worked with AMPC to evaluate the use of the 3D printer in the factory. “We went through and looked at what applications we could use it for here on site, what printable parts we have, and what we can try the 3D printer on,” Armstrong said.
“There are so many uses for 3D printing in meat processing plants. It can be used while waiting for parts to be delivered. Plants can 3D print a part so that equipment can operate while they wait. a spare part from a manufacturer Alternatively, 3D printed parts can completely replace the need to go to the manufacturer.
AMPC CEO Chris Taylor said the company’s role, as a research and development organization for red meat processors, was to examine innovative technologies such as 3D printing, and how they apply and can be used in Australian meat processing plants.
“The ability to simply print a replacement piece of equipment could significantly reduce downtime and minimize the need to wait for parts,” he said.
The two 3D printers will be transferred to different red meat processing plants across the country throughout 2022 as part of the trial.
For background on the project, click here.