Australian manufacturer laser focussed on new markets for recycling technology
ActionLaser, a laser drilling filtration screen specialist, will enter the global market for plastic recycling machinery through a collaborative project supported by a Federal Government’s co-investment managed by Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC).
Established in 1988 by researchers of laser drilling technology from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), ActionLaser initially set out to manufacture next-generation perforated centrifuge screens for Australian sugar processors before branching into equipment for other industries.
Since its foundation, the company has gone on to supply precise, laser-drilled filtration screens to the food and beverage, mineral and chemical processing, agriculture, water and recycling sectors. Most recently, with the support of AMGC, ActionLaser has turned its unique separation know-how to melt filtration systems – widly considered the heart of any plastic recycling machine.
“What this AMGC project has done is completely changed this 35-year-old company. It has helped us increase our sales, increase our staff to 30 and export nearly 80 per cent of what we make,” explained Bevan Rashford, the company’s CEO and original researcher behind the MeltFilter technology.
“Precision is in our DNA and we are very good at drilling small holes with lasers. But applying this to world-class melt filters involves not just precise laser drilling techniques, but access to the correct steels, various kinds of specialised hardening processes, mastery of some very complex design challenges, and high-level software and automation to ensure you can do it all competitively,” explains Steve Greer, Global Manager, MeltFilter.
The company’s MeltFilter brand is now selling internationally and has vast potential among recyclers who have been limited to one single supplier in the world for a vital, highly complex consumable.
“ActionLaser is the kind of manufacturer that reminds you of what works, and what can be achieved in Australia by commercialising and exporting our great ideas and products,” said Dr Jens Goennemann, Managing Director at AMGC, which backed the project with $558,500 in co-funding through its Commercialisation Fund.
“Founded with the specific aim of meeting a global need, ActionLaser focussed on solving that problem, basing its competitiveness on technical superiority rather than cost, and willing to invest in difficult R&D programs to progress.”
AMGC’s co-invested project drew on expertise from Senarc Services, run by co-founder of ActionLaser and former CSIRO industrial laser group leader Dr Ken Crane, as well as stage engineering business Simple Motion.
Simple Motion was essential in programming software for automating a rotating table used in ActionLaser’s processes. The company’s recent work includes a rotating item on a different scale, that being the centrepiece for Sydney Belvoir Theatre’s production of Into The Woods, as well as a high-speed camera system used in filming Robbie Williams’ biopic.
Thermal hardening specialist Heat Treatment Australia is another important partner in ActionLaser’s supply chain. It provides core hardening technologies and invests in equipment for specialised surface treatment, currently performed overseas, to help meet the predicted demand for melt filters.
ActionLaser expects to grow its revenues by 25 per cent next year and the same amount the following year from new business, and to hire technologists with STEM backgrounds in the process.
The shift in ActionLaser’s operations has been profound requiring the company to relaunch its website, travel to Europe’s premier recycling trade show, Plastics Recycling World Expo in Essen, and introduce new branding for its MeltFilter business. While its new logo speaks to the robust nature of its products. It depicts a native grass tree, Xanthorrhoea Australis, which can survive harsh, arid conditions in the Australian bush and outback, intense bushfires, and lives up to 400 years.
To learn more about how AMGC supported commercialisation of ActionLaser’s new MeltFilter product, visit www.amgc.org.au/project/the-development-of-meltfilters/