Knowledge exchange crucial in securing the future of South Australia’s advanced manufacturing industry

November 2018

Manufacturing is the backbone of South Australia’s economy and, for more than a decade, the South Australian Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF-SA) has supported innovative researchers, academics and industry to realise technological growth and investment opportunities.

Complementing the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute’s exceptional research infrastructure, the South Australian node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF-SA) specialised initially in microfluidics, with expertise that has grown to include lab-on-a-chip technology, advanced sensing, functional coating and separation science.

ANFF-SA has steadily built a reputation as a global leader in finding solutions to real-world problems for clients requiring complex design, rapid prototyping and improved product performance of their miniaturised devices.

It was ANFF-SA’s steadfast commitment to problem-solving which led to the idea of skilling-up the next generation of micro engineers with knowledge of ANFF-SA’s capabilities; securing ANFF-SA as an industry resource going forward and forging life-long ties with the State’s most promising graduates.

The development of an intensive week-long and hands-on Winter School program, piloted in 2014, has enabled ANFF-SA to introduce participants to more than $12 million in state-of-the-art equipment, housed in purpose-built facilities at the Mawson Lakes campus.

Attracting locals, as well as some national and international participants, ANFF-SA’s Winter School has now had more than 250 undergrads, PhD, Masters and Post Graduates participate in the intensive program.

The opening of ANFF-SA’s fifth consecutive Winter School by the Minister for Industry and Skills, Hon David Pisoni MP, marked a momentous occasion. Acknowledging ANFF-SA’s innovative and collaborative program, Minister Pisoni emphasised that Winter School is helping shape the future of employment for the State’s advanced manufacturing industry.

Deepali Aurora, a researcher from Curtin University who attended the inaugural Winter School in 2014, returned to run a practical session and use ANFF-SA’s equipment for a project.

"The ANFF-SA Winter School was a fantastic opportunity to meet, interact and observe some of the finest professionals across a vast networking of fields, both industrial and academic,” said Deepali. “They demonstrated how they effectively utilize micro-fabrication to achieve their goals.”

Node Director Associate Professor Craig Priest says Winter School highlights how effective, high quality micro-fabrication can be used to enhance the tools and devices used in industry and academia.

“The shared knowledge is helping to guide innovation into the participants learnings,” said Associate Prof Craig Priest. “These researchers are aware of ANFF-SA’s strengths and capabilities and they are returning when they need us.”

University of Adelaide’s Research Fellow Dr Abel Santos attended ANFF-SA’s first Winter School in 2014 and he understands the long-term value of the program. Abel and his team have become regular ANFF-SA users and he has incorporated Winter School into the professional development of his research team to engineer advanced lab-on-a-chip sensing tools for animal welfare management.

“Through ANFF-SA’s Winter School our researchers have gained valuable insights into the development of advanced lab-on-a-chip microscale devices to address the intrinsic limitations of benchmark analytical techniques,” said Dr Santos.