Waikato Centre for Advanced Materials (WaiCAM)
WaiCAM provides a platform for research and development, providing industry with solutions in materials processing. Through in-depth knowledge and interface with other research and development groups, the centre has acquired domestic and international recognition in research and development of advanced materials. Demonstrated capabilities include:
Thermomechanical Powder Consolidation (TPC)
WaiCAM has developed the TPC technology which produces titanium and titanium alloy parts from blended elemental powders by powder compact extrusion and forging in 10 - 20 minutes. Blended Elemental Powder Metallurgy (BE-PM) is a cost effective method for producing titanium alloys, because the parts can be near net shape formed thereby reducing the usually high cost of machining. The technology gives high compositional flexibility at low cost. The current product range includes:
- 12-30mm in diameter and 200-500mm long round bar
- 6mm diameter and 2000mm long wire
- 22-30mm outside diameter, 2-5mm wall thickness and 200-450mm long tube.
WaiCAM has also worked with industry partners to provide solutions in the manufacture of products such as:
- Rocker arm
- Diving helmet mask.
|Diving helmet mask|
The TiPro process has been invented to produce titanium metal and alloy powders from inexpensive inputs in two stages consisting of solid-liquid separation followed by purification. The solid-liquid separation utilises self-propagating reactions while purification is achieved by calciothermic reduction of residual oxygen. The technology has gone past the conceptual stage and is ready for scale-up.
Polymers and Polymer Matrix Composites
In New Zealand alone, the polymer industry has a turnover of more than 1 billion dollars. Polymers, especially those used for packaging, have received a lot of attention in the last few years, mainly for their perceived environmental threat. Polymers on their own often do not have all the required properties for the intended application. It is therefore common to compound plastic with various additives to improve their properties. This is mainly achieved by fibre and particulate reinforcements. To address the environmental concerns around polymers, extensive research is conducted to find suitable alternatives, such as bio-derived and biodegradable materials. Other options to ease the environmental pressure are also pursued and include the use of sustainable materials in conjunction with conventional plastics.
Research is focussed on the leading edge in the area of composite materials including carbon fibre and natural cellulose based fibre polymer matrix composites. Such work has focussed on tailoring properties of these materials through fibre treatment and interfacial engineering. The research has involved development of polymer matrices from bioderivable materials including a thermoplastic based on corn gluten meal and a thermoset based on glycerol the latter of which has been patented and adopted by Nuplex Industries Ltd. for commercial application. Self-healing composites and magnetorheological composites for damping applications are under development as well as composites for 3D printing.
Other focus areas include waste and by-product valorisation with an emphasis on renewable materials and biological products. In recent years, we have developed protein-based thermoplastics from bloodmeal. This project has lead to the establishment of a spin-off company (Aduro Biopolymers LP). This area covers a wide range of topics, such as polymer extrusion, rheology, material properties, protein analysis, chemical modification of proteins as well as protein composites and nano-composites. Other topics of biological nature include protein recovery from waste water and recovery and modification of chicken feathers suitable for polymer composites.
The Polymers and Composites area has strong capability in extrusion and injection moulding, complimented with an extensive range of analytical equipment such as mechanical testing and thermal analysis.
The research group's powder metallurgy capabilities and interdisciplinary collaboration with the Chemistry research group has led to the development of a porous titanium electrode that is applied in water purification of domestic to municipal drinking water, recycled or reclaimed water, wastewater and swimming pool chlorination systems.
The state-of-the-art research laboratories and pilot plants provide facilities for most of the materials research needs such as:
- Materials preparation and characterisation equipment
- Various furnaces
- Laboratory and pilot plant presses
- Various milling equipment.