Currently commercially available Australian world first products and technologies in manufacturing.

 The most advanced plant monitoring system

Ensuring the smooth operation of factories and large plant requires constant and simultaneous monitoring of thousands of different processes and procedures, analysing production data in real time, identifying trends, minimising equipment waiting times, and having reliable and detailed information to hand quickly when things go wrong.

Developed by the research and development team headed by engineer Colin Yamey at CI Technologies Pty Limited, Citect is a PC based software system which provides a window to industrial plant operations and performance. The system's scalable architecture is a world first and it is the most advanced plant monitoring system on the market. It can be expanded from a simple operator interface, to a complete networked plant-wide system, monitoring thousands of points in real time and allows managers to 'see' the plant from one end to the other in a few keystrokes.

Citect can be used to control an entire plant from starting the machinery to controlling and monitoring equipment performances, reducing staff requirements without compromise to productivity or safety. It also provides complete overviews of the plant on easy-to-comprehend graphic displays, and generates reports at each shift's end either to a floppy disk or printer.

Citect has been successfully applied in the mining and mineral processing, automotive, food and beverage, power and utilities, water treatment, building management, pharmaceuticals, and in the steel and metals industries with dramatic results.

 New approach to intelligent motor control

Servo motor controls are a fundamental part of modern machine tools and robotic manufacturing systems. Servo-drives are the mechanisms by which power is supplied to those motors, so that their rotation can be accurately controlled. Traditionally, servo drive systems have been relatively unintelligent and have made machine tool and robot control more complex than it might otherwise need to be.

Softronics Pty Ltd has developed the CIM-Drive system - an intelligent digital signal processor (DPS) controlled servo drive system which is not only extremely compact, but can also be networked to other computer systems. The system provides a unique method for controlling motors and can send intelligent feedback to other devices. The system is called CIM-Drive because it is designed to fit into a computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) environment and interact with other intelligent control systems in an advanced manufacturing facility. The system not only provides a new way of designing machine tool and robot control systems, but is also the basis for upgrading older manual machines to programmed operation on an axis by axis basis.

The CIM-Drive system considerably more cost effective than traditional systems because it provides complete digital control of power circuitry and is modular in design. It is also available in a development kit form, which is ideal for machine control system research and development, and has already been extensively marketed to domestic and international universities and research centres

 World's fastest circuit board for vision systems

Machine vision has been used in industry for many years for product inspection, part identification, process control and a host of other applications. In its basic form, machine vision involves the connection of a video camera to a computer which analyses the image, and the results from the analysis are then used to control an industrial process. Until recently, the problem with machine vision was the time it took to process an image. Generally, the faster the processing time required, the more it cost in expensive computing hardware to process the data.

Researchers at the CSIRO Division of Manufacturing Technology discovered a way to process the imagery of many objects in a scene in parallel. This method greatly increased system speed and was embodied in an electronics board called the Area Parameter Accellerator in 1986. Called the APA512, the world's fastest circuit board for vision systems, was used at NASA's Cape Kennedy Space Center for the shuttle's robot vision guidance system during critical launch pad procedures. In windy conditions that caused the shuttle to sway, umbilical connections performed by a robotic arm required precise positioning information. The CSIRO system of video cameras and strategically placed 'target dots' enabled the robot to 'see' the shuttle's exact position by comparing the position of the dots 30 times per second.

In 1992, Atlantek Microsystems Pty Ltd commercialised the APA512+, which has revolutionised the performance of high speed vision systems for industry. Processing speeds like 30 million picture elements per second are typical for the new board.

Using this board, a machine vision system can, for example, inspect biscuits arriving on a conveyor at speeds faster than 20 products per second. Any biscuit outside the shape and size limits of quality control standards can be automatically identified virtually as soon as an overhead camera has captured the image. The system can also calculate the location and orientation of each biscuit so it can be removed or diverted by a robot.

The board has an endless rage of applications, particularly in quality control for industry. Machine vision systems using the APA512+ can effectively and inexpensively inspect products for defects such as scratches, tears, stains, wrinkles and other undesirable features, as the product travels quickly past an overhead camera.

 Faster and versatile manufacturing management

Computerisation of industries around the world has driven manufacturers to search for ever more advanced software applications.

A new software application package called ARMOR, developed and commercialised in 1993 by Armor Pty Ltd in collaboration with the CIM Centre at Swinburne Institute Victoria, is a computer system for manufacturing which incorporates all aspects of planning. It is the first system to successfully combine three different computer applications in one. These are planning of manufacturing resources, project management and production control systems. This integration allows for a full spectrum of manufacturing environments to be controlled simultaneously.

ARMOR can be used for managing overhaul and repair, as well as for manufaturing. It has been used to dis-assemble, overhaul and re-assemble aircraft. The system has been used to monitor and track more than 29,000 aircraft parts. It can also keep a track of who did what to the aircraft and the people who did the inspection.

Detailed forward scheduling is performed daily to highlight performance against an existing plan and to determine necessary changes to the plan if necessary. The system's innovative configuration control capabilities have applications for large engineering works.

 Not all peaches are created equal

One of Australia's major fruit canning companies, Ardmona Fruit Products Co-op Co Ltd decided that they needed to develop real-time production control and monitoring systems to streamline their productivity and optimise their profitability. In 1988 they set up a subsidiary called Digital Signal Processing Systems Pty Ltd (DSP Systems) to come up with the ideas and solutions, and they have not looked back since.

Among a number of excellent innovations from DSP Systems, is the world's first Peach Imaging System. Developed in 1993 the system sorts peaches based on size, colour, shape, colour uniformity and blemish - all in real-time. While travelling at speed on conveyor belts, the peach halves are carefully and accurately sorted to ensure a uniform and high quality end product. Unlike manufactured articles, fruit are not easy to classify and grade. Not surprisingly, an 'intelligent' device that can monitor so many different aspects of natural produce accurately and in real-time, has engendered a great deal of interest from a wide variety of industries for the task of looking for defects in machine and man-made products.

The highly configurable system is based on custom hardware and software developed by DSP Systems over a six year period. And because the system was designed and developed on the factory floor to solve real production monitoring problems, rather than in a studio, it incorporates a great deal of practical experience and attention to detail.

Take a closer look at your canned fruit. If all the pieces look identical, DSP Systems may well be the reason why.

 Solderless audio connectors for sound technicians

The world's first solderless audio connector was invented by engineers Chris Weiss and David Van Emmerik and commercialised by Alcatel Components Pty Ltd in 1993.

Instead of solder, the ingenious new connector uses insulation displacement in a simple one-step operation. The connector is suitable for use in microphones, tape recorders, video tape recorders, test instrumentation, medical electronics, computers, Television cameras and other low-level circuit environments.

Available in both male and female 3-contact configurations, the connectors join quickly and securely together, and can be disconnected easily. Labour savings of as much as 75% can be achieved by doing away with the old messy and time consuming soldering process.

Winner of the 1993 Audio Engineering Society Award, the new insulation displacement audio connector is great news for professional audio technicians all over the world.

 New electronic thermostats for consumer goods

Thermostats are seldom seen, but are important devices that maintain constant temperatures in electrical appliances and trigger on/off safety devices in case of overheating. Just about every mains powered appliance that heats or cools has a thermostat in it. And until recently they were unreliable mechanical components, prone to failure and inaccuracies. What engineers at Philips Components Pty Ltd have done for the thermostat, is what the quartz movement did for the wind-up watch. They invented the world's first commercially viable electronic thermostats for consumer durables in 1988.

The OM1682 has less moving parts, is more accurate, can be incorporated in a very wide range of consumer products and will last longer than mechanical thermostats. The invention is a major breakthrough for manufacturers, industrial designers and engineers, who can now guarantee complete control over system parameters, providing the opportunity to exactly match the characteristic of any electro-mechanical controller while having the freedom to innovate better, more reliable, new consumer products.

Our next generation of refrigerators, heaters, air-conditioners, hair dryers, irons, kettles and a host of electrical goods we use every day, everywhere around the world, will be more reliable and last longer because of the innovation from Philips.

 Saving time and money for small manufacturers

In manufacturing more than any other industry, time is literally money. And the quicker you can produce a component without compromise to quality, the more money you can make per component. Not surprisingly, there is a constant need for new better, quicker and cheaper equipment in all aspects of manufacturing. And while many major innovations have come from huge multinational corporations, a small company with a highly innovative approach to problem solving has made a significant contribution to the manufacturing process.

Managing Director of Sorensen Automation Pty Ltd, Danish expatriate engineer Keld Sorensen developed the Sorensen machining centre in 1975 and brought cost effective production within the reach of small and medium size manufacturers.

Rotary machining centres can machine components three to four times faster than conventional machines, but are very expensive, take up a lot of floor space and require highly skilled and highly paid tool-setters to operate them. The Sorensen machining centre fitted with three automatic machining heads is an inexpensive alternative to these high capital investment machines that takes up just 1 square metre of floor space, takes about one hour to set up between jobs and can be operated and maintained by semi-skilled operators.

The practical innovation from Sorensen Automation has provided a multitude of cost effective machining solutions to many small and medium sized manufacturers, for whom conventional rotary machining centres were not feasible.

The company is looking to increase it's growing market share with new agents and distributors.

 Sharp performance from smart tool grinder

We all of us need tools of one kind or another, as do manufacturers of all the goods we buy and use. People who make our tools also need tools. And if you can improve the tool makers tools, everyone wins, all the way along the line to the consumer.

In 1990, Anca Pty Ltd did just that. They developed a revolutionary computerised seven axis CNC tool grinding machine used to manufacture or resharpen complex industrial cutting tools called the Fastgrind TG7, that has just half the components of conventional machines. This not only significantly reduced the cost of machine and maintenance, but also greatly simplified the complexity of performing previously difficult tool sharpening operations. The machine is also easy to use and the operator is not required to enter as much data as other similar machines.

The digitised Fastgrind TG7 package has set new standards in computerised tool grinding. The versatile machine is both accurate, and economic, and can be operated by relatively inexperienced personnel.

 Fad for super-smooth hard surface coatings

Combining brilliant smoothness and optimum hardness in surface coatings of many materials has been difficult to achieve. Traditional physical vapour deposition (PVD) techniques are far from perfect because the thin films deposited have a low packing density, low microhardness and often do not adhere well to the material being coated.

Now a revolutionary new commercial coating technology, initially developed by Dr Phil Martin's team at the CSIRO Division of Applied Physics, combines smoothness and hardness like never before.

Developed in conjunction with Dynavac Engineering Pty Ltd and the Royal Australian Mint, the filtered arc deposition system known as FADS 3000 is a type of PVD which combines cathodic arc evaporation with a filter to remove the macroparticles of cathode materials from the depositing flux. The result is a deposition process that utilises a 100% ionised flux of cathode material with particle energies high enough to ensure self-densification of the depositing film during growth. Unlike conventional PVD technology, FADS 3000 is even smooth enough for the very high quality coating requirements of proof coin dies.

The FAD technique offers a number of benefits over the more conventional methods of film deposition, particularly in terms of deposition rate, film smoothness, and relative cost in equipment. It also allows the depositing ion flux to be scanned across the surface of the part to be coated, resulting in a high degree of control over the coating process. The process has been successfully used in the deposition of optical quality oxide films, magnetic films, low-temperature superconductors, alloys, carbides and nitrates, and amorphous diamond material.

This super-smooth coating technology has widespread applications in many industries including electronics, optics, machine and tools, and will eventually replace current plating processes such as chrome, cadmium and nickel.

 Computerised high quality spatter free welding

Welding. For many years, the art of perfect welding has largely been a hit and miss affair, relying on experience through trial and error. Now there is a new way to ensure perfect welding results with the launch of an innovative welding system with facilities for 150 in-built welding programs for every conceivable welding situation.

Developed by CSIRO Division of Manufacturing Technology in collaboration with Welding Industries of Australia, the Synchro-Plused CDT arc welder was a world first when it was released in 1981. The latest model is the Synchro-Pulse CDT-450 released in 1992, a microprocessor controlled pulsed arc welder with a welding range of 35 to 450 amps, and facilities for 150 resident welding programs providing high quality spatter free welds. The wide range of programs cover a variety of metals including aluminium, carbon steel, stainless steel, alloys, bronze as well as composite metals. The innovative welder is easy to use and enables all positional welding at low currents, low distortion due to reduced heat input. The machine is multi-functional, and can be used for standard mig, pulsed mig, MMAW and GTAW welding. Custom made welding schedules can be developed on-line and downloaded for immediate use.

Easier to use for complex and critical welding applications, the Syncho-Pulse CDT-450 can also be integrated into robotic installations. Its user friendly menu driven keypad operation allows easy selection of welding schedules and programs. The automatic self fault diagnosis feature stops the machine should a fault occur and displays suggestions for fault location and correction.

The Syncho-Pulse CDT-450 has many testimonials of improved weld cycle times by as much as 30% from industrial users, for whom savings in time and reduced rejects, have resulted in dramatic productivity increases and cost reductions.

 Stainless steel laser-drilled screens for micro-filtration

New high performance stainless steel lasercut screens, sieves, aerators, support grids and a wide range of other products have been made possible by a world first laser technology.

Unlike conventional screens which are made from soft electrodeposited nickel with a brittle chromium surface, the new stainless steel screens are uniformly tough throughout. Conventional screens are also affected by corrosion. The chromium layer flakes off exposing the soft nickel base which quickly erodes.

Invented by Ken Crane and Milan Brandt at the CSIRO Division of Manufacturing Technology, the technology using industrial lasers, is the only way to make stainless steel screens and filters, where the width of each hole is smaller than the thickness of the metal, and when the metal is less than 2mm thick, without warping the metal.

Commercialised by Actionlaser Pty Ltd in 1988, the stainless steel laser-drilled screens or sieves contain millions of tiny tapered slots or circular holes. Each hole is accurately perforated by the patented laser process to specific dimensions. Slot widths between 40 and 200 microns are possible on a 200 micron thick material, up to 2 metres long and 90cms wide.

The fine filtration technology from Actrionlaser has many applications in industry, including sugar mill and pharmaceutical centrifuges, corn starch mills and mineral processing. For the environment, the innovation is being used for tertiary sewage treatment, filtration of discharges from tanneries as well as pulp and paper mills.

For the future, the company is developing an automated method for plating the laser-drilled screens with a hard abrasion resistant coating.

 Optical anti-counterfeiting technology

Counterfeiting. The cause of huge losses for some and vast gains for the unscrupulous. Anti-counterfeiting devices have been around ever since money began changing hands, and images, such as the human portrait, have long been used to secure the authenticity of currencies around the world. Unfortunately not all have provided guaranteed protection against counterfeiting.

The latest in anti-counterfeiting technology promises to provide the highest possible security for bank notes, credit cards, and brand names. The new technology is optical security, where images, such as portraits or logos, appear with optical effects. These images alter when illuminated, or when observed from particular viewing ranges and angles, appear as multi-dimensional, and have colour movement effects. Called EXELGRAM, it is the most advanced form of optical security technology in the world today.

Developed by the CSIRO Division of Materials Science and Technology in 1992, the technology consists of an optically variable device with a unique information encoding mechanism. An Exelgram can include photographic images, a full range of graphic effects and machine readable codes. Under a microscope the final images can be seen to consist of thousands of minute indented diffracting tracks.

Commercialised in 1995 by Leonhard Kurz (Australia) Pty Ltd, production of an Exelgram involves the three stage process of artwork development, artwork conversion and the fabrication of the master image plate.

Already in use in Australia and Vietnam, this innovative new technology has made counterfeiting harder than ever, and is providing high levels of security for our monetary and proprietary assets.

 Industrial strength mouse for harsh environments

An essential part of graphical software systems such as Microsoft Windows is the pointing device known as the mouse. But while they work well enough in the office, they are unable to deal with harsh industrial environments where dust, water, heat, and heavy handed operators are present.

Designed and developed by Automation & Process Control Services Pty Ltd, the new Industrial Mouse is an inductive joystick, with no moving contacts, that emulates a mouse and is ideally suited to harsh environments. The mouse cursor moves in any direction at a speed that is proportional to the displacement of the joystick. This provides both speed and precision. Unlike other mice and trackballs, it is sealed and unaffected by dust and water.

Believed to be the first of its kind, the heavy duty unit is constructed from steel, which is zinc plated and powder coated for extra protection. The innovative product connects via a standard PC serial port and is available as a desk or panel mounted version.

The Industrial mouse allows industrial users to gain access to Windows-based and other mouse operated software in harsh environments, giving improved control and precision as well as reliability.

 High-tech kiln halves energy costs

Traditional gas fired kilns for firing clay wares use less than 5% of the fuel input to fire the ware. The rest heats the heavy structure. They are slow and inflexible because the mass of the structure dictates firing procedures.

A high-tech, super-efficient, intermittent shuttle kiln with ultra-low-thermal-mass construction has revolutionised the gas-fired kiln, reducing fuel consumption by more than 50%.

Invented by chemical engineer Joe Davis in 1972, Port-O-Kiln is designed for firing clay wares to 1,300C-plus in atmospheres from oxidising to reducing. Manufactured and sold by his company Port-O-Kiln (Aust) Pty Ltd, the kilns are the most energy efficient of their kind, utilising high quality refractory linings in a stainless steel casing with a strong corrosion-resistant steel frame.

They are simple to fire manually (without automated systems requiring electricity) and can be operated by inexperienced people. Automation is easily integrated.

Self-contained units can be firing within 24 hours of arrival on site. In 1 to 7.4 cubic metre modules, they can be set up singly, or in a multiple modular firing system.

The Port-O-Kiln offers ceramic manufacturers and independent operators all over the world a highly productive, versatile and energy efficient unit for all types of clay-ware firing.

 Infra-red scanner protects kilns for cement industry

To make cement, you need clinker. A rock-like substance which is made by heating and rotating the various ingredients in a special industrial kiln. These expensive kilns are lined with thousands of bricks that protect the outer skin of the kiln from damage. These bricks gradually wear out and if they are not replaced in time, they can cause costly damage to the kiln through overheating, and monitoring the surface temperature of clinker kilns is a vital concern to cement manufacturers.

Until recently, monitoring these kilns were a number of pyrometers mounted on poles approximately 10 metres from the kiln, each scanning a 15 metre section of the shell. Each of these instruments monitored one revolution of the kiln and moved to a new location to scan the next section, and so on. They were slow and unable to detect small points of high temperature accurately.

The T-Scanner, developed by engineer Kevin Burke and his team in 1986 at Blue Circle Southern Cement Ltd brought accuracy and a new peace of mind for kiln operators. Using an infra-red monitor to scan the kiln shell once every 24 seconds, it can be linked to a number of kilns for continuous 24-hour monitoring. The data presented in coloured images on a monitor which displays the heat profile of the entire kiln surface at any given time with graphs of the kiln speed and temperature. A zoom function allows for detailed examination of suspected trouble spots, and the computer automatically stores readings for comparative use. The instrument can also control cooling fans to reduce temperatures and switch them off when the shell cools.

While the T-Scanner may only impress people in the business of making cement, when you consider the bottom line cost of all that concrete in the buildings and structures around you, a little saving to the manufacturer, will go a long way down to people who use our most popular building material.

 Optical surface profiler for precision measurements

Australia's currency production methods are considered to be the most advanced in the world, because of a new instrument that measures the surface dimensions of coin dies that press coins to new levels of accuracy, without contact and substantially faster than traditional methods.

The new instrument called the Optical Surface Profiler, or OSP130, was developed over an 18 month period by a group led by Dr Bob Oreb at the CSIRO Division of Applied Physics in collaboration with the Royal Australian Mint, both of whom are commercialising the instrument.

The instrument uses advanced non-contact optical techniques to capture the surface resolution of coins, and can measure all the dimensions of a coin mould in 20 minutes, a process that used to take about four hours with the old surface-measuring equipment. Its unique software analyses the data, providing qualitative reports, colour contour relief maps and two-dimensional section profiles of a coin's dimensions, eliminating the element of human error.

A grid of regular and evenly spaced bright and dark lines of light are projected onto the surface of the tool to be measured. These bands of light are viewed by a high-resolution TV camera connected to a computer. The bands of light on the die appear distorted, the degree of distortion dependent on the height or depth of the die's surface. The grid of lines are shifted stepwise across the surface to a variety of positions, and the resulting images are converted into computer language; the distorted grid is then compared to a grid produced by a flat surface, creating a moire effect which is directly related to the shape of the object being measured. This information is used to create a precise relief map of the surface of the object measured.

The OSP130 simultaneously measures more than a quarter of a million points across a tool's surface with better than 99% accuracy. In the minting process the OSP can measure how accurately a coin design is being transferred from the die to the blank. It allows the volume of material pressed out by the die and the amount of die wear to be calculated precisely.

The innovation also has many applications in a range of industries where dies and moulds are used, including the metals, aeronautical and automotive industries.

 Printed circuit board design software for windows

The first printed circuit board (PCB) computer-aided design (CAD) software to run under Windows has been developed by Nicholas Martin and a team of programmers at Protel Technology Pty Ltd. Called 'Protel for Windows Advanced PCB', the software provides PCB designers with the advanced design capabilities typically associated only with dedicated CAD workstations.

The product surmounts traditional PC-based design barriers by providing an 253x253cms (100x100inch) workspace. A complete Gerber tool set is part of this modular software package which includes Gerber-file viewing, editing and panelisation. The current version 1.5 release uses a 32-bit database, giving submicron placement resolution (0.000001 inch) exploiting current PCB manufacturing technology.

An editable component library with over 300 patterns is provided. Automatic printing and plotting, including Gerber generation is on a "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" basis. Close integration with 'Protel for Windows Advanced Schematic' schematic capture software is provided in the form of cross probing by net and by component. A back annotation facility ensures that the PCB and scematic files correspond exactly.

Protel for Windows features an intuitive, highly flexible editing capability that fully supports standard Windows routines such as Cut, Paste, Copy and Delete. On-line HELP represents a comprehensive reference resource available to the user at any time.

Reducing the time it takes to design printed circuit boards will lead to the faster development of new and better products, some of which may otherwise have been too expensive to commercialise.

 Exceptional telescopic hydraulic cylinder design

In hydraulics, dirt on or around precision moving parts means wear, loss of performance, and expense to the owner. And the very cornerstone of hydraulics is the telescopic hydraulic cylinder - a hard working, often expensive component that is prone to damage from dirt and grime.

A new ingenious innovation is the Delhoist Telescopic Cylinder, conceived and developed by John White in 1972 and commercialised by his company Delta Hydraulics Pty Ltd in 1982.

The Delhoist design features a revolutionary single sealed construction, ensuring that the inner workings of the cylinder are not exposed to the atmosphere, dirt and moisture. The design combines the gland, tube, piston and stop ring, and reduces the number of components from 25 in ordinary cylinders down to just six. This not only results in cost savings, but enables the telescopic cylinder to be compressed to a shorter length, thereby increasing its range of lifting and positioning applications.

Lifting anything from 100 kilos to more than 100 tons, the Delhoist Telescopic Cylinder is not only the first, but the best of its kind in the world.

 Inexpensive hydraulic nut for heavy equipment

John Bucknell worked with bulldozers and other heavy equipment for many years and thought there had to be a better way of tightening and undoing large nuts and bolts on heavy earth moving equipment. After searching the world for a suitable product, he decided to make his own.

His invention, the Hydranut fastener, is a new and better way of tensioning large nuts than "flogging" the nut using a ring spanner and sledge hammer. Although hydraulic nuts are nothing new, the few models on the market were either for permanent installation, required specialised equipment for hydraulic charging or were very elaborate and expensive.

Commercialised in 1989 and manufactured by Hydranut Pty Ltd, the Hydranut fastener is a precision engineered, high pressure hydraulically operated bolt tensioning device that can be quickly and easily fitted and used with regular pumping equipment. The Hydranut is first screwed onto the bolt by hand, after which a gun is used to apply pressure through the nipple on the nut, into the sealed chamber. This forces the nut body apart, stretching and tensioning the bolt through the joint.

The threaded lock ring on the piston is screwed back, hand tightened to retain the induced load and the hydraulic pressure then released. To remove the Hydranut, pressure is re-applied through the nipple and the locking procedure is simply reversed.

The tension is both reliable and precise. The Hydranut is unsurpassed where accurate loading is required or vibrational or torsional stresses are a problem.

Already widely accepted in the Australian mining industry, Hydranut fasteners are being assessed by original equipment manufacturers and designers for applications as diverse as submarines and sugar mills.

 Perfecting die designs for pressure die casting

In pressure die casting, precisely how molten metal behaves as it flows into a die, and the processes it undergoes as it solidifies, are important factors that determine the design quality of the die and therefore the end product. Until recently, die design was largely a 'hit and miss' affair that relied on trial and error to complete the die design, often taking months to perfect.

A new software package that incorporates 15 years of research into the fundamentals of die casting, has now taken the guesswork out of die design by optimising the runner and gating designs and drastically reducing the time it takes to produce production-quality dies.

DMT-Castflow, the successor to the mainframe based Meltflow, was developed by the CSIRO Division of Manufacturing Technology and commercialised in 1991 by Castec Australia Pty Ltd. The program is an integrated approach to die design which can predict metal flow and temperatures inside a die at the design phase. This permits complex testing of machine performance and die design without the expensive trial and error processes of the past.

DMT-Castherm is a complementary product to DMT-Castflow specifically developed for designing cooling and heating systems in die casting dies. With this software, designers can quickly ascertain the position, size, and number of cooling/heating channels in the die and maximise its thermal effectiveness.

Both DMT-Castflow and DMT-Castherm are designed to operate on IBM compatible PCs which puts this high technology innovation within the reach of small and medium-sized companies.

 Measuring wool fibres to determine quality and price

The quality of wool is judged by the fineness of the fibre. The average fibre diameter of raw wool also determines its processing potential and end use, and well as its price. It is therefore important to both the grazier and the wool processor to be able to quickly and accurately measure the diameter of a sample of fibres. In manufacturing, there is also a need to measure the varying diameters within the sample.

The CSIRO Division of Wool Technology developed a new sophisticated laser instrument called Sirolan-Laserscan that can measure the fibre diameter distribution at every stage in the production of the wool fibre; from breeding and growing of sheep, through to the harvesting, marketing and processing of wool, quickly and accurately.

Commercialised by Associated Controls (Australia) Pty Ltd, the instrument can measure the diameter of a fibre of wool within the ranges of 0-80, 160 and 240 microns, accurate to within 0.1 micron. Used in sorting centres and wool mills, combed wool can be sampled and measured within one minute, and greasy wool within three minutes.

Prepared fibre snippets are automatically dispersed in a carrier liquid which transports them through the measurement cell, where they intercept the laser beam. Changes in the beam intensity are converted into diameter readings by the computer. The instrument's patented fibre-optic discriminator ensures the accuracy of the readings by rejecting measurements affected by dust, fibre fragments and multiple fibres.

This new high level of accuracy has resulted in a higher quality consistency of wool to manufacturers, resulting in higher quality wool products.

 Scouring process for cleaner wool and less effluent

The first stage in the treatment of wool is scouring. This process involves washing the wool in warm water and detergent, or soap and soda solution to remove impurities from raw wool such as dirt, grease, suint (dissolved body salts) and protein contaminant. In conventional scouring, the wool is washed consecutively three times before being rinsed twice. However, research showed that the contaminants were harder to remove than was previously thought. The protein contaminant in the wool was unable to be removed until the end of third wash, and was being redistributed over the fibres during squeeze-drying.

Researchers at the CSIRO Division of Wool Technology developed a unique scouring system called Siroscour, which offers improved scouring efficiencies with cleaner wool, less water consumption, and lower effluent disposal costs.

Research led to the distinction between easy-to-remove and hard-to-remove contaminants, the concept of selectively removing different contaminants in different scouring bowls, and the development of two-stage and three-stage scouring.

Commercialised by J Dyson & Son, the first commercial Siroscour installation opened in 1988.

 Detecting and removing contaminants from wool

Unlike domesticated cats, sheep are not known for keeping their fleece in a pristine condition. By the time they are rounded up for shearing, their strong woolly coats are covered in dirt and bits of vegetable matter. To detect and remove these contaminants or dark fibres from the fleece, a small sensing device was developed at the CSIRO Division of Wool Technology.

Called Siroclear, it responds to variations in reflected light and is triggered when undyed yarn contaminated with stained fibres is moved passed it. The trigger activates a cutting mechanism on the winding machine which snips off the contaminant from the fibre.

Manufactured by Loepfe Brothers Ltd in Switzerland, Siroclear can detect a single 3mm dark fibre at winding speeds of up to 1,600 metres per minute (96 kilometres per hour). Siroclear has substantially reduced the cost of manufacturing white and pastel shades of wool fabrics.

 Testing fabrics for appearance and performance

Predicting how a fabric will perform when made up into a garment is of great importance to fabric manufacturers, suppliers, finishers and garment makers.

A new system of fibre objective measurement developed by the CSIRO Division of Wool Technology in 1990 and commercialised by Associated Controls (Australia) Pty Ltd, is able to determine the appearance, handle and performance properties of fabrics.

Sirofast consists of three instruments and a test method. A compression meter measures fabric thickness at various loads; a bending meter measures the fabric bending length; an extension meter measures fabric extension at various loads; and a dimensional stability test measures relaxation shrinkage. The tests are simple and the equipment is easy to operate. The results, which can be obtained within one hour, are plotted on a control chart to provide a 'fabric fingerprint' which indicates whether the tested fabric will be suitable for the intended end use.

These fabric fingerprints are used for fabric specifications, developing new fabrics, comparing fabric finishing routes, assessing the stability of finished fabrics, and predicting tailoring performance and final garment appearance.

Sirofast is an important quality control system that is used right across the textile and apparel industries.

 New lightweight high quality cool wool fabrics

Wool has long been regarded as a hot and prickly fabric, particularly in warm climates. Traditional perceptions of wool are, however, changing due to a new wool spinning technique called Sirospun invented at the CSIRO Division of Wool Technology.

Conventional weaving yarns are normally made up of two strands twisted together. These strands must be first spun and then "two-folded". This method of spinning makes the yarn stronger, because the twisting together of the two yarns binds the surface hairs into the structure which gives the spun yarn a smoother appearance and more resistant to wear and tear. After this spinning process, the "doubling" procedure is carried out on a separate machine.

Sirospun eliminates the costly doubling process by 56% by spinning the two-strand yarn in one stage, giving sufficient twist in each of the individual strands as well as folding twist of the strands about each other. This method ensures the trapping of the surface fibres.

The technology was commercialised in 1980 by a consortium consisting of Warren & Brown & Staff Pty Ltd, the International Wool Secretariat and the CSIRO.

Sirospun is used almost entirely at the fine end of wool yarn spinning, in the range of 17-24 microns, to produce a high quality lightweight pure wool.

The innovation enables the economical production of fine yarns for the manufacture of lightweight, trans-seasonal "Cool Wool" type fabrics, suitable for high quality garments, such as men's and women's suits and women's skirts and blouses.

 UV resistant wool that does not fade

Most textiles suffer some damage from sunlight, and wool is no exception. Yellowing from sunlight is a problem in a wide range of products from clothing to car upholstery fabrics and furnishings. Exposed to strong sunlight at elevated temperatures, curtains fade and carpets lose their colouring. Prolonged exposure to sunlight also weakens wool fabrics.

Cibafast W is a UV absorber that protects wool textiles against yellowing, dye fading and degradation that results from excessive light and heat. The innovation was the result of a joint research and development project between the CSIRO Division of Wool Technology, International Wool Secretariat (IWS) and Ciba-Geigy Australia Limited.

More than 40 new photo-protective agents were synthesised and tested. Two of these, Triazine and Benzotriazole, were identified as potentially useful and in 1984, the IWS began assessing the commercial viability of these compounds and developing suitable application conditions for wool. It is best applied in the dyebath during colouring of the wool, but can also be effective as an aftertreatment during wet finishing of fabric.

Domestic, commercial and automotive upholstery, as well as carpets and clothing in pastel shades will all greatly benefit from this new technology. Commercialised and marketed worldwide since 1991 by Ciba-Geigy Australia, Cibafast W provides improved performance in resistance to ultra violet degradation and colourfastness to light, to one of the most versatile natural fibres available to man.

Public Notice: Due to an unresolved dispute with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), who copied and adopted as their own certain material from Tomorrow's World, the Australian Initiative, and published the material in their Australia Open for Business website, without remorse or recompense, access by Australian Government servers to this online edition has been blocked indefinitely.

Print Edition: ISBN 0646252119 - Paperback - 224 pages - 350 illustrations - $55.00 incl. GST.

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