In the suburbs of Western Sydney, Australian ingenuity and innovation is driving a technological and skills revolution that could put the nation in the box seat for new jobs in new industries. 

Romar Engineering, which started as a small operation making tools for the auto industry in 1968, has quickly evolved to help make the region the centre of advanced 3D printing in Australia. 

Photo showing Romar Engineering sign

Through partnerships with global technology leader GE and Australian universities, Romar is helping build an ecosystem of additive manufacturing more associated with Japan or Germany, right here in Sydney. 

As GE Country Lead Sam Maresh explains, it allows you to build and print things you otherwise wouldn't be able to build. 

“It is the technology that enables you to design certain parts, whether it be defence or healthcare or aviation, develop them and effectively be part of the global supply chain. By being innovative, being able to make things quickly and building products that are that lighter, cheaper and more durable.” 

Or as Steve Milanoski, Romar’s Head of Advanced Manufacturing says, it takes you “from art to part.” 

Three people stand in front of the GE additive 3d printer at Romar engineering in Sydney

It’s not only creating new highly skilled jobs; it’s enabling existing businesses to scale up to become global players in the supply chain and position Western Sydney as a global skills hub for specialised industries. 

From humble beginnings, Romar Engineering is an Australian manufacturing success story; with a team of 75 staff, hiring nine engineers over the last year alone, they offer scalable manufacturing solutions to the aerospace, biomedical, mining and defence sectors on the global scale. 

Romar’s recent installation of a new GE Additive Metal AM machine provides them with the competitive advantage in designing performance-oriented fluid controls for critical applications. 

They are currently establishing the first additive facility in Australia to NASA standards for the production of metal additive hardware. 

“We realised that we had all of the skills required to go down the path of evolution in additive manufacturing and bring on that capability that is in high demand in Australia,” Steve says.  

And this isn’t just good news locally; Western Sydney has a unique opportunity to be a regional hub for training in advanced manufacturing and in particular, additive manufacturing. 

“What we have is an opportunity to become a skills centre, Western Sydney isn't a precinct for New South Wales or a precinct for Australia, it's a precinct for the [Indo-Pacific] region. We've got to continue to focus that mindset. The 24-hour airport will be bringing people from all around the Asia Pacific,” Sam explains. 

Model of Sydney Opera House made using 3D printer

Collaboration between industry and research is crucial for Australia to stay ahead of the global pack. 

“In additive manufacturing, you have to stay ready, so you don't have to get ready. Partnering with universities allows us to stay at that forefront and be privy to all the research that is going on within Australia so that we can stay abreast of any new technologies,” Steve tells us. 

“Additive manufacturing moves at 900 miles an hour all the time - it's really quick and you can get behind the ball very quickly.” 

Investing in the next generation of engineers and problem solvers is fundamental for Romar Engineering, and precisely why it has established internship programs with the University of Sydney, RMIT and UTS. 

“Students come to Romar to work on some very challenging engineering problems. They get to have their hands on hardware and get to see their designs realised in real time,” Steve says. 

Inspired early on by her dad to pursue a career in engineering, Sophie Heasman jumped at the opportunity to get hands on experience at Romar. 

“At uni, you don't really learn how to do anything hands on, especially in mechatronics. You learn how to program, and you learn how to create all these complex systems, but you don't know how to actually design and manufacture what you intend to create.” 

Female engineering student at Romar Engineering

Currently completing a double degree in Mechatronics Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Sydney, Sophie has relished the opportunity to work on a range of projects at Romar. 

“I get to do a massive variety of things and it’s very valuable. I'm always challenged, and I'm always given something new.” 

Additive manufacturing is a crucial element of diversifying Australia’s industrial base and apart from defence, space and aerospace – “it is opening up other frontiers in the super high-tech world of advanced manufacturing,” Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said. 

“Businesses like Romar, who are using cutting edge technology and skilling up the next generation of workers in our future industries play a pivotal role in building an ecosystem where business and skills innovation will drive higher wages, higher living standards and a high growth environment.” 

And Sam agrees, the future is looking very bright for the region provided we continue to innovate and support future industries. 

“We've got great capability and great skills in Australia, but we need technology as an enabler to allow us to enter into new supply chains, develop new products and position us as an economy that can take advantage of a changing world.” 

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