Red meat R&D: 3D printing trial begins at red meat processing plants


WELCOME to the regular series of articles focusing on red meat R&D, presented by Beef Central and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation. These items highlight a range of projects designed to enhance the efficiency, productivity, product quality and safety of Australian red meat sold into the domestic market and around the world.

All have the ability to help underpin Australia’s unrivalled reputation as the world’s premier export of quality beef, lamb and offal. Links to previous articles in the series appear at the bottom of this page.




THE Australian Meat Processor Corporation has begun trials of 3D printing at red meat processing plants with the delivery and installation of two 3D printers at two plants.

AMPC and Konica Minolta collaborated to establish a world-first, industry-owned additive manufacturing (3D printing) service model to help red meat processors across Australia to print equipment parts, revolutionising equipment maintenance and potentially avoiding lengthy downtime due to breakdowns.

3D-printed gear replacement in use at Casino Food Coop

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has been around since the late 1980s. However, new uses for the technology are constantly being discovered. This led AMPC to investigate its potential in meat processing facilities.

In a high-volume environment like a processing plant, parts such as bolts and rollers can wear or break. With 3D printing, the industry can benefit from part replacement, creation, and refinement.

Brian Armstrong, draftsperson and project support officer from the Casino Food Co-op processing plant in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, said the 3D printer was “at a whole other level.”

“It’s really exciting to see what this will mean for the future of replacement parts at meat processing plants,” Mr Armstrong said.

“We have already printed a ‘gear’ which is the size of a dinner plate. It is being used currently in a very harsh environment taking a lot of weight. The gear holds big drums used for just one process we do here. We used the 3D printer to recreate the previous gear which needed replacing.”

Casino Food Co-op’s Brian Armstrong with one of two 3D printers being trialled in Australian meat processing plants

Casino Food Co-op worked together with AMPC when scoping the use of the 3D printer at the plant. “We went through and looked at applications we could use it for here on site, what printable parts we have and what we can try the 3D printer on,” Mr Armstrong said.

“There are so many uses for 3D printing at meat processing plants. It can be used when waiting for parts to be delivered. Plants can print a 3D part so that equipment can be operated whilst waiting for a replacement part from a manufacturer. Alternatively, 3D printed parts can replace the need to go to the manufacturer altogether.”

AMPC CEO Chris Taylor said the corporation’s role, as the research and development body for red meat processors, was to look at innovative technology such as 3D printing, and how it applies and can be used within Australian meat processing plants.

“The ability to simply print a replacement equipment part could drastically reduce downtime and minimise the need to wait for parts,” he said.

The two 3D printers will move to different red meat processing plants around the country throughout 2022 as part of the trial.


For background to the project click here. 


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