Professor Xinhua WuMaterials Science & Engineering
Australia's unique natural assets could allow the country to play an important role in the global aerospace industry. The potential of the local industry has received a significant boost with the arrival at Monash University of Professor Xinhua Wu, an established expert who has the attention of the biggest names in aerospace.
Xinhua moved from Europe to Australia to head the ARC Centre for Excellence for Design in Light Metals, a collaboration of six universities and more than 100 researchers.
However, Xinhua did not make the trip alone. In addition to an impressive resume that includes 12 patents and more than 120 refereed papers, Xinhua also brought with her some of the biggest names in the aerospace industry. International giants Bombardier, Airbus/EADS, the European Space Agency and Microturbo have all placed research contracts with Xinhua and the ARC Centre since she arrived in Australia.
The industry appeal of her research lies in her expertise in titanium (Ti), titanium alloys and their manufacturing processes. Titanium is one of the three key metals of modern aerospace science, along with magnesium and aluminium. However, titanium research is still in its relative infancy, and offers the greatest potential for design and performance improvements.
Xinhua has been involved extensively in Ti and titanium aluminide (TiAl) alloys and in advanced powder processing, in particular for Ti and nickel alloy powders. Her research into alloy development and characterisation covers a range of Ti alloys (Ti64, Ti6246, Ti-15-3, Ti-15-3-0.1C, BuRTi, Ti5553andhellip;), TiAl (Ti4522XD, Ti46Al8Taandhellip;), nickel-titanium and nickel-titanium-copper shape memory alloys, niobium-silicon ultrahigh temperature alloys. Her recent activities are mainly on development of innovative manufacturing, including laser additive manufacturing and net-shape HIPping (hot isostatic pressing) which are technologies able to produce complex 3D components from computer designs in a single step, which leads to a reduction in current manufacturing cost by 30-50 per cent, a reduction of material wastage by 90 per cent and a reduction of lead time from 24 to three months for Ti, Ni, Al and steel structural components.
Xinhua is confident that Australia can capitalise on its rich titanium deposits and create a viable local industry by pairing leading Australian aerospace researchers, such as those at the ARC Centre, with international companies.
"Australia is the largest producer of titanium ore, which makes you think why don't we actually turn that ore into some product, but what you need is a local pull of manufacturers and the users who need the metal," Xinhua says.
"The only thing that can make that happen is if there are innovative manufacturing processes or new materials developed by Australia.
"People don't realise that the aerospace industry is very technology-driven, for them it is not just about making a shape with the metal, it is always competing about what is the better material, what is the lighter material, wanting materials to be cheaper but equally as good -- it is constant driving on that.
"So when we bring these leading companies here, I want them to work with the ARC Centre academics and incorporate all that applied research with the fundamental metallurgy knowledge here and see it into products."
Xinhua and her colleagues are also equipped to design manufacturing processes to suit each new material developed. She is confident that, with the appropriate support from the government, Australia could become a serious player in the lucrative global aerospace industry.
Research interests: Advanced Materials Engineering, Alloys, Light Metals, Hybrid Materials, Materials Design, Physical Metal, Direct Laser Deposition, Laser Additive Manufacturing, Net Shape Hipping, Powder Processing, Lasers, Manufacturing Processes (Industrial Engineering), Materials Processing Engineering, Materials Sciences, Materials, Engineering Properties, Materials, Preparation/Fabrication, Metallurgical Engineering, Metallurgy, Metals and alloys