Massive 3D printer attracts mining eyes

A revolutionary 3D printer machine has put Bendigo "on the map" mayor Barry Lyons said.

The $568,000 printer is the centrepiece of Keech Australia's new subsidiary company, Keech 3D Advanced Manufacturing. 

It is Australia's largest 3D printer.

The printer is the size of a small room and is being used by Keech engineers to make miniature, plastic models of mining machinery parts for multi-national giants Rio Tinto and BHP. 

Quality and innovation manager Bala Hebbar said making models before casting the real thing in steel meant that engineers could "get it right the first time". 

"It gives engineers a lot more confidence that the part will work out in the field," Dr Hebbar said.

Keech 3D Advanced Manufacturing is already engaged in business with clients in China, Japan, France and Indonesia.

Mayor Barry Lyons said Keech's new business meant "mining industry eyes" would be on Bendigo.

"It really puts us on the map," he said.

"This sort of innovation in Bendigo takes us into a new era," Cr Lyons said.

He said it was wonderful Keech had decided to take a "bold step" to invest in cutting-edge technology.

"We're a pretty progressive city here," he said.

More than 150 guests from Sydney, Melbourne, Bendigo and surrounding towns attended the launch, toured the factory and watched demonstrations of the 3D printing process. 

State manufacturing minister David Hodgett attended the event to co-launch it with Cr Lyons.

"It's a great story for Keech, a great story for Bendigo and a great story for economic growth in the state," Mr Hodgett said. The state government contributed $141,700 to the cost of the printer, which Keech 3D business manager Doug Baird said was a welcome contribution.

Mr Baird said Keech decided to invest in the 3D printer when it recognised a "market opportunity" to become more innovative.


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