Augmented Fabrication: An Industry 4.0 XR Framework for Australian Custom Manufacturers

Augmented Fabrication

Project dates: 01/03/2020 - 01/07/2023

Why it matters

This PhD research project is motivated by knowledge gaps in the literature surrounding extended reality (XR) usage in the design-to-fabrication process of small-to-medium (SME) Australian custom manufacturers transitioning to Industry 4.0. capability. Australian custom manufacturers face skilled labour shortages, increased sustainability requirements and the need to deliver competitive customised projects to dynamic global supply chains (AMGC, 2022). Custom manufacturers are exploring XR technologies to improve fabrication efficiencies (Gao et al., 2020). Despite these advances, implementation remains inconsistent, suggesting further knowledge is needed to overcome adoption obstacles in the industry. XR technologies are an ‘umbrella’ term for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). Within this research context, augmented fabrication refers to fabricators assisted by contextually overlayed virtual content to reduce task ambiguities and increase productivity, efficiency, and work lives. Several issues have limited XR use in manufacturing, such as registration accuracy, adaptability to site conditions and multiuser synchronisation (Cheng et al., 2020). Moreover, an investment in staff training, the costs of multiple devices and the space required can be cost-prohibitive (Davila et al., 2020). Smaller manufacturers are typically time-poor, lacking the resources to explore productivity enhancements such as XR in their product development process (AMGC, 2022).


Project Overview 

This inquiry will develop an XR integration framework to support Australian custom manufacturers with a ‘toolkit’ they can draw upon to enhance their fabrication and assembly processes. Underpinned by a research-through-design (RTD) methodology, the development of an XR framework will apply practice-based insights from the design-to-fabrication processes of three custom manufacturers within the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub ecosystem. Developing an industry-validated XR framework seeks to support the sector’s self-sufficiency, resilience, and competitiveness.


Project Outcomes

Events:

  • Presentation of paper for the OzCHI 2022 ‘Connected Creativity’ November 2022 conference. OzCHI: Annual conference of Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group (CHISIG)

Publications:

  • Franze, Anthony. (2022) Employing AR/MR Mockups to Imagine Future Custom Manufacturing Practices. In Press. OzCHI ’22. 

Project Team

Chief Investigator

Anthony Franze

Supervisors

Principle Supervisor: Associate Professor Glenda Amayo Caldwell
Associate Supervisor: Dr Müge Belek Fialho Teixeira
Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Markus Rittenbruch

Industry Collaborators

Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Hub (ARM Hub)