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AI Housing

CADDS Group Based in Western Australia, employs over 180 staff members in six divisions Surveying, Engineering Design, Product Design, Building Design, Environmental Sustainable Design and Fabrication. Each division covers a wide range of services to some of the state’s biggest companies. It’s blue-chip mining sector client list includes such notables as Rio Tinto, BHP, Alcoa, and the Commonwealth Government’s research organisation, CSIRO.

In 2023 CADDS Group strategically enhanced their capabilities with an investment in three cutting-edge Markforged printers – FX20™, Mark Two™, and Metal X™. This advanced equipment, explained Managing Director Darren Clark, enables the Group with the ability to fabricate parts and tools with high-yield strength and unparalleled precision. Utilising advanced materials such as continuous carbon fibre, stainless steel, copper, and tool steels, the technology propels their operations to the forefront of innovation.

Norbert Babooram, Product Design Manager of Inovaus, the product design division of CADDS Group, said access to in-house printing facilities has proven to be a time-saving brainstorming tool.

“Before acquiring the printers we would discuss possible solutions to a problem and decide which one of, multiple ideas to pursue. Nowadays it is just a simple matter of ‘let’s trial multiple ideas. It’s a great way to test fittings and confirm design directions” he said.

This flexibility was put to good use recently when Inovaus tasked to design a housing for a camera that formed a small but important part of an AI-driven mobile modular workshop system for a major mining company. The housing needed to protect the camera from the harsh, dusty conditions encountered in mine-site workshops and, because the system would be moved from site to site, it needed to offer a range of flexible systems to suit any location.

AI Housing printed on FX20™.

Research had shown there were no off-the-shelf solutions available, and that a bespoke housing would have to be created from scratch. Norbert said having the printer in- house helped a lot, and the first prototype was produced in three days. The team came up with two fixing solutions, one clamping and one magnetic, to provide installation flexibility.

“The beauty of the quality and strength of the printed process is that, with a few minor modifications, what was the prototype is now the finished product. It’s ready to go,” said Norbert.

“Prior to acquiring the Additive Manufacturing equipment, if we’d had to look at manufacturing in plastic, it would have been an injection moulding job. There would have been no flexibility to test prototypes – if one didn’t work, making new ones would be time-consuming. All up, there would probably have been around two months of design work to get the mould right. Concept confirmed in less than two weeks and had a usable finished product at the end of that time – no need for machining or injection moulding.

“The economics are impressive, too. We’ve done costings on injection moulding that indicate a likely cost of $55,000, including development costs, with a minimum run quantity far more than our needs. Producing the housing on our printer is costing from $800 a unit, and we can produce them in small quantities, so the savings in both time and money are massive,” he said.

Markforged’s industrial-grade 3D printers offer important benefits to the mining industry via the company’s unique Digital Forge ecosystem, which makes remote operation, management and monitoring from mine sites viable. This technology will enable CADDS Group to produce high- performance parts and componentry on-site, reducing lead times, minimising downtime, and improving overall operational efficiency.

The savings in both time and money are massive."
— Norbert Babooram Product Design Manager, Inovaus

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