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Drafting Gear Gauge

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. Its blue-chip mining sector client list includes such notables as Rio Tinto, BHP, Alcoa, and the Commonwealth Government’s research organisation, CSIRO[ZH1].

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 the CADDS Group, said access to in-house printing facilities enables his team to devise swifter and more efficient solutions to client challenges.

“When we acquired our printers it prompted one of our major mining company clients, to invite our involvement in the design of a new tool to measure wear on rail wagon draft gears,” said Norbert.

The current method of measurement is to use a tape measure and a ruler, and involves removing the draft gear from the wagon coupling, at a low level of accuracy a time- consuming process ultimately driving up costs. As Norbert pointed out, the gear tested is often within wear limits, so it has been removed unnecessarily, due to inaccurate readings.

Drafting Gear Gauge printed on FX20™.

“The client had produced a rough design for a new gauge, which required three different tools for different parts of the measurement process within a week we were able to come up with a design for a single tool that could perform the complete measurement process,” said Norbert.

Overnight, a prototype was printed on the Mark Two, tested on a draft gear at Inovaus, and promptly dispatched to the client for assessment. It received enthusiastic feedback and was used multiple times on site.

“We designed and printed a second version, which the client approved and put to use on-site. Then in a few days we were able to design other elements and print a tool that can measure the gear while it is still in place in the wagon coupling,” said Norbert.

Each version designed by Inovaus is modular, so individual parts can be modified without having to revise the whole tool, tailored sections can be designed to suit different types of draft gear.

Norbert’s team costed design and production on the basis of injection moulding, and estimated that the whole process, including development and mould production, would take at least 500 hours. Designed in just a week, the Additive Manufacturing version can be printed overnight at merely 1.5% of the overall cost of injection moulding.

“The gauge has immense international potential. Designing and producing these early models provides proof of concept and gives us a footing in the market to raise awareness of the product. This would not have been feasible without Additive Manufacturing,” said Norbert.

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 AM version can be printed overnight at 1.5% of the overall cost of injection moulding."
– Norbert Babooram Product Design Manager, Inovaus

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