MTA Queensland welcomes Sarfraz Ali Kyani to Research 3D Printing Technology

In late 2019, MTA Queensland partnered with the Australian Research Council (ARC) on a five-year project, titled the ARC Training Centre for Multiscale 3D Imaging, Modelling and Manufacturing (M3D). The focus has been placed on two key subprojects, with the aim of developing a sustainable additive manufacturing model for Australia’s automotive industry.

To research the first area of the project, MTA Queensland has welcomed Sarfraz Ali Kyani, a doctoral candidate from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), to explore the ‘recycling of automotive parts for additive manufacturing’.

Sarfraz Ali’s work experience covers several roles across both academic and corporate sectors.

He possesses an undergraduate degree in finance, an MBA (double majors in finance and marketing), followed by an MS in Entrepreneurship. Prior to coming to Queensland for his PhD research, Sarfraz was working as an Assistant Professor and cluster head of Marketing and Entrepreneurship department at FAST National University Islamabad, Pakistan. Providing entrepreneurial and financial advice, his focus was to prepare young adults to start their own ventures.

Further to academia, Sarfraz is the CEO and co-founder of Deventions, a full-spectrum event production and training company that provides a wide range of services to individuals, government, corporate and not-for-profit sectors. He is also the founder of Maskan charity school for underprivileged children in Pakistan. Through his 15 years of experience in social entrepreneurship, business coaching, and event management, he has continued to work in roles that have an impact.

Sarfraz, driven by these experiences and motivated to make an impact on the environment, now brings this passion to explore new business practices to the automotive industry in his investigation of end-of-life processes for vehicles.

In Australia, around 80 per cent of a vehicle can be recycled. This includes the metal, glass, fluids, batteries, and tyres. The remaining 20 per cent is called ‘automotive shredder residue’ (ASR) which is non-recyclable and, due to its complex composition, usually ends up in landfill, posing a significant environmental threat.

This contrasts with Europe, where European Union member guidelines require the reuse and recycling of at least 95 per cent of the vehicle parts. These figures highlight the inefficiency of Australia’s recycling process and provide a call to action for better environmental performance.

The M3D project hopes to garner a deeper understanding of 3D technology, and how it can be used against conventional automotive parts to create a financially and environmentally sustainable manufacturing method which can recycle/reuse ASR materials. To do this, the project will outline the Australian landscape of end-of-life vehicle management and ASR handling in comparison to the international standard, explore the current sources of waste in the automotive industry, and investigate the feasibility of additive manufacturing.

Once the preliminary research stage on 3D printing has been completed, the project will then conduct dimensional, microstructure, general characterisation, and mechanical testing on the manufactured parts, as well as perform a root analysis for process optimisation. The final stage of the subproject will work with industry partners to develop national standards that promote the recycling of end-of-life vehicle parts.

Technological advancements in additive manufacturing bring significant environmental benefits. 3D printing allows the creation of lightweight vehicle parts which utilise less energy to produce, as well as a reduction in material waste. The resulting lighter vehicles also increase fuel economy, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide and monoxide released by the exhaust system.

Further to environmental benefits, additive manufacturing provides a cost-efficient alternative to conventional manufacturing methods, ease in designing and producing customised parts, and time-saving benefits through the ability to test and amend prototypes in shorter timeframes.

Within the luxury and motorsports market, companies such as Porsche, Bugatti and BMW are already trialling 3D technology in their vehicles.

While the emergence of 3D printing has led to significant advancements in the manufacturing process, it also presents a risk for dishonest manufacturers to introduce unsafe and potentially harmful products to drivers and occupants.

To combat this risk, part of the M3D project involves creating a standard for automotive part producers that will ensure consistency through both materials and processes.

Further to this, many vehicle wreckers have concerns regarding the lack of skills and experience to use 3D printing technology. Since additive manufacturing is a relatively new concept, training employees for design and production may present challenges for some manufacturers.

For Sarfraz Ali, this is one area where he believes his research will be able to offer some useful insights and potential solutions.

“The project hopes to explore the international methods and create a comparative analysis to bring that technology to Australia through a viable business model.”

While only five months into the project, Sarfraz has identified the main ASL materials that creates automotive waste, through visiting vehicle wreckers and recyclers and reading relevant literature in this domain.

“It gives me a chance to bring the theory into practice, whereby I can meet industry partners such as MTA Queensland and vehicle wreckers, who are the principal stakeholders in the project, and add value into what they do.” said Sarfraz Ali.

The next step of the project includes selecting suitable materials and testing those to be used in the additive manufacturing process. Following this, Sarfraz aims to establish a national framework to help mould the future development of the addictive manufacturing industry.

Whilst not directly part of the subproject, he has also recently created a sculpture for the QUT BizArtX exhibition that sought to highlight the wider issues he saw in his preliminary research. The sculpture is a representation of a crumpled car. Aluminium foil was used to signify the steel and metal parts of a vehicle, which are finely wrinkled, ready to be converted into recyclables. The tail-light (mainly composed of plastic and fibre) is shown in its present condition as it becomes part of landfill.

“For many people, the art piece was absolutely a new awareness of the environmental issues created by automotive waste,” said Sarfraz Ali. “I collaborated with MTA Queensland to supply the vehicle parts to be used in the sculpture.”

Whilst it is only early days in the M3D project, Sarfraz Ali is optimistic of the research and the benefits it will bring to the industry,

“I will be very happy if I could achieve a viable solution at the end of my research that will assist the Australian automotive sector become more sustainable.”

MTA will continue to support Sarfraz Ali and the M3D project, in the hope that we can bring the Australian industry standard for ASR materials to a more environmentally sustainable level.

Source: Motor Trader e-Magazine (December 2020/January 2021).

17 December 2020

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