Dr Paul Di Pietro has recently been appointed to the Faculty to lead the University of Wollongong’s Facility for Intelligent Fabrication (FIF) and Industry Engagement.

Paul completed his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at UOW before completing his PhD at UNSW in laser processing. Since then Paul has held a number of leading positions in industry and government, which include working for a number of years as a Senior Research Fellow at UOW in the CRC for Welded Structures.  Paul’s last role was as Head of Innovation and Integration at ANSTO (Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation). Prior to this he held the position of Managing Director of AINSE (the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering).


UOW’s Facility for Intelligent Fabrication (FIF) provides expertise, technology, equipment and training in automating steel fabrication to help manufacturing businesses adapt and compete. Their knowledge and resources draw on decades of research-based welding and automation expertise and training. FIF also builds on the links between UOW, TAFE NSW and Weld Australia.

The FIF team has successfully completed a number of complex industrial automation projects. These cover a wide range of industries including structural steel fabrication, machinery, equipment and defence. The team has a focus on several areas such as robotics, augmented reality, scanners and dust suppression technology.

Robotics Lab

One of the bottlenecks associated with the use of robots in industry is the programming time. However, FIF is working on optimising robotic welding for complex frame structures with integrated in-process welding quality control. Their use of advanced software allows automatic recognition of intersecting surfaces, positioning of welds and collision analysis to occur within minutes. This dramatically reduces programming efforts to allow robotic systems to be used in a flexible way.

Augmented Reality (AR)

AR is an emerging technology where the perception of the user is enhanced by the seamless blending between a realistic environment and computer-generated virtual engineering objects.

In FIF’s AR lab, the team are assessing complex engineering structures in AR mode. They are also exploring how these systems could also be used for training and factory layout planning, by integrating it into their existing production environment.

FIF use their VR systems to capture the 3D layout and environment of their clients’ real factories to enable them to virtually install their proposed automation solutions. The benefit for the clients is that they can experience first-hand how these solutions would interact with their existing equipment and processes, without having to invest in installations upfront.

High Resolution Scanners

Another interesting area of FIF’s work is the use of high-resolution scanners. These scan and give feedback of precise actual dimensions of site works so fabricators can make accurate adjustments back at the factory, ensuring no rework is required when delivered on site.

For further information, please contact Paul on dipietro@uow.edu.au