Intel publicity photo shows Intel s 3-D printed Jimmy the Robot. Picture: Reuters.
Intel publicity photo shows Intel's 3-D printed Jimmy the Robot. Picture: Reuters.

Aspiring graphite miner Kibaran Resources has partnered with a 3D printing company to explore the use of graphite and graphene in the rapidly growing market.

The two companies will work together on research and patent development.

Kibaran said the 3D printing industry is evolving rapidly, with accelerating technological development forecast to drive the market value from the current $US3.8 billion to $US16.2 billion by 2018.

"Graphene has the potential to significantly expand 3D printing applications and - based on the predictions of some commentators - even drive a new industrial revolution," Kibaran said.

Kibaran said graphene was a one-atom thick, near-transparent sheet of graphite recognised around the world as stronger than a diamond and steel but is flexible, and is better at conducting electricity that copper.

Kibaran is developing its Mahenge and Merelani graphite deposits in Tanzania, with the aim of becoming a stable and secure supplier of natural flake graphite.

3D Group is an emerging marketer of 3D printing systems and services.

The company plans to be Australia's leading 3D printing company, designing, manufacturing and marketing 3D printers and services for the domestic and international markets.

Kibaran executive director Andrew Spinks said 3D technology had the potential to bring about a quantum shift in the way the world produces new materials and products, including whole structures or individual components, in a raft of new industries.

"Its commerciality has been proven with the production of car parts, jewellery, dental applications such as crowns, and there are also investigations underway to print houses for a fraction of the cost," he said.

"The strategic alliance with 3D Group positions Kibaran as a potential supplier of expanded graphite and graphene products through the mine supply chain, and creates additional shareholder value in the downstream sector."

Mr Spinks said the memorandum of understanding with the 3D Group would not deter from the company's main focus of advancing its graphite projects in Tanzania.

Kibaran shares were off 0.5 cents, or 3.23 per cent, to 15 cents at 11.35am.

The West Australian

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