The Innovation Hub is managed by Craig Murphy who generously spent two hours with us to explain what it is all about. He also demonstrated some of the equipment for us.
The Hub has come a long way from an initial grant application in 2016 to what is a very well equipped facility today.The Hub has already had a relocation in its short life and is now located in a new area which is currently being expanded to include additional functions.
Craig explained that the thinking behind the facility is that it is based on the worldwide Maker Movement in that it provides working space for students, local business, industry and the community at large. Digital Disruption, Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things and the need to be responsive to product development and lead times were all considered when designing the Innovation Hub.The vision is to provide a ‘one stop shop’ where people from all walks of life can come together and learn and grow in a safe non-threatening environment.
The equipment includes quite a number of 3d printers of various types including resin and plastic filament and a 3d scanner to reproduce a software model for later printing by the 3d printer. Also included is a very sophisticated CO2 laser cutter and etcher (able to cut wood up to about 10 mm thick and etch anodised aluminium). The etcher can be driven by the well known Adobe and Autodesk software such as Photoshop and Autocad.
Other items of interest were the vacuum former for making plastic objects from a mould. A garment printer is also available for reproduction of artwork on suitable material. We were taken with the small robot based on an Arduino micro computer board together with the various actuators to make it do something. While this was assembled from a kit, the plastic components could easily be obtained by using the 3d printers and the software developed by local enthusiastic students etc.
The two hours passed quickly and we all enjoyed our visit. After thanking Craig profusely, those of us who had the time enjoyed lunch at The Hollywood in Wangaratta.
Coffee at the Northo this month was highlighted by Malcolm’s presentation of his adventures in the UK particularly in regard to travelling the canal system and also the technologies he and his family saw at the Farnborough air show. Most impressive was the new lightweight Airbus 350. The A350 uses a combination of materials, including plastic reinforced by carbon fibre, along with titanium and aluminium alloys. More than 70 per cent of the aircraft is made of lightweight materials. Aerobatic helicopters with ‘outside’ loop the loop capability were also amazing. Sadly, the canal system technology relying more on brawn (in this case Malcolm’s wife’s) was not nearly so impressive but none the less interesting.