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“A joint effort” between the UK and Australia will accelerate innovative approaches to joining materials for defence.

The culmination of four years of collaborative work between UK and Australian defense was showcased at a Defense and Security Accelerator (DASA) event in March 2022. The event highlighted technologies being developed in as part of the “A Joint Effort” competition, which was launched to find innovative approaches to creating and managing joints and integrating new materials on military platforms.

New materials and improved joining capabilities of these materials can provide significant benefits to military land, sea, and air capabilities, including improved functionality, availability, and survivability.

UK and Australian innovators presented the results of the second phase of ‘A Joint Effort’ and showcased their innovations to an audience of UK-based technology integrators and defense personnel. UK stakeholders were represented at the event and were able to assess the maturity of the work and identify opportunities for ‘transfer’ into specific projects and applications.

What was presented at the event?

Some of the innovations showcased at the event include:

From Great Britain:

  • a new assembly process for physical protection that will help produce armor faster and cheaper
  • an adhesive, inspired by the natural adhesives used by marine molluscs, that can adhere sensors to surfaces without interfering with sensor functions
  • techniques for joining dissimilar materials to operate at elevated temperatures, which could improve the operating performance of assets such as vehicles
  • a multi-functional composite joint structure with improved damage tolerance and “self-healing” through crack closure

From Australia:

  • new adhesive technology to develop reversible and on-demand bonding and detachment of components/materials by adding new magnetic nanoparticles
  • a new non-destructive evaluation method for determining the performance and degradation of materials, adhesives and transparent shielding systems using THz detection
  • novel modeling approaches for in situ monitoring of damage tolerance, damage growth, and residual carrying capacity of composite joints to support digital twin applications
  • new technologies to improve the strength of repaired metal/composite sections through the use of additive manufacturing and pinning, reducing processing damage and increasing the durability of structural joints
  • development of new composite resin systems for composite systems that significantly increase the durability of finished cured products and provide residual lightning strike protection to this class of materials

How has the collaboration between Australia and the UK benefited the project?

“A Joint Effort” demonstrates the ability to engage quickly with partners globally to identify and conduct high-risk, high-reward research. It is the first innovation competition of its kind and has developed methods and working methods to enable new collaborative competitions in the fields of defense and security.

Many of the projects showcased at the event built on the investments made during the first phase of the competition by expanding their teams to include international partners and identifying avenues of exploitation across both countries. Many of the projects demonstrate true collaboration and aligned work programs as a result of this competition.

Olivia Samardzic, Minister Counselor for Defense Science and Technology, DSTG, said: “By working bilaterally, we not only strengthen our science and technology relationship, through diversity of thought, burden, sharing of resources and resilience, but we also provide support to everyone at the level of each nation. respective defense industries to overcome the capability challenges we both face. This allows us to provide the combatant with an ability that is better tested and delivered at a faster rate than if we were acting alone.

John Hunt, Australian Delivery Team Manager, Dstl, said: “We have greatly enjoyed working with the Australians in this particular bilateral union. We have established very strong relationships and have been able to access a larger pool of innovation from Australian and UK researchers. Our respective indigenous scientific and technological bases are better thanks to this investment.

The “A Joint Effort” competition was organized in the UK and Australia through DASA and was managed by the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) in the UK and the Defense Science and Technology Group (DST Group) in Australia. The competition was funded by the Small Business Innovation Research for Defense (SBIRD), part of the Next Generation Technologies Fund in Australia and the Materials for Strategic Advantage program in the UK. Both countries used DASA as a common assessment framework.

How has this project helped innovators?

Asked about their experience of being involved in the “A Joint Effort” project, a vendor said, “The way DASA launches competitions and challenges ensures visibility into what our technology could deliver, which is really essential. It helps to tailor a project to focus on end users. DASA’s ability to support projects that are very early in their development has been essential for our growth as a start-up. It’s risky business, taking technology from concept to proof of concept. DASA allowed us to do this successfully.

Another vendor said, “Without the ‘A Joint Effort’ call, we would never have had the funding to move our ideas forward. It would have been a good idea that was going nowhere.

Asked about the next steps for their project, one vendor said: “We have demonstrated the potential of our idea, which will hopefully make people think there is more to come. We have potential applications in a variety of fields. Developing strategic relationships with partners familiar with bringing a finished product to market will help us navigate and reduce risk in the product development path we must follow. »

Another vendor commented, “We have a pending patent application based on what we have learned and discovered. There is also more research to be done. We have opened a Pandora’s box in terms of the use of this technology in civil and defense applications.

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