To make the management and collection of digital geotechnical data as secure as possible, RockMass Technologies, founded in 2016, aims to offer a complete data collection system to an entire industry of mechanical engineers. RockMass has also acknowledged the need for highly precise, cutting-edge geotechnical tools that can be used immediately and withstand any difficulties the hard rock mining industry may present. They put their group of talented engineers to the test and created the Axis Mapper product line keeping those factors in mind.
Axis Mapper is intended to assist in getting the appropriate information into the hands of mining professionals. This includes hard rock mine operations, tunnelling contractors/consultants, and potential applications in open-pit mining and quarry digging. Beyond just the Axis Mapper product line, RockMass is constantly looking for ways to improve the technology available to their industry.
People can get hurt when they enter dangerous environments, so the tools they bring with them need to be just as tough. Engineering these parts requires extensive durability testing, from the robust, helmet-like outer chassis, sporting the rock mass gold and grey branding, to the internal fixtures that cradle the delicate internal sensors and electronic components. Additionally, these parts must be precise, light, and both strong and lightweight when used as internal fixtures. It's advantageous to have control over the aesthetic qualities of shape and color as with any product.
RockMass was able to mold the original Axis Mapper casing and internal sensor mounts out of high-strength urethane, materials well suited to the desired application, using conventional casting and CNC techniques. There are some limitations to that, though. These production and prototyping techniques are expensive, and lead times may exceed five weeks. RockMass would have to restrict the number of revisions they could make as prototyping would incur even higher costs. The equipment needed to cast in-house is too expensive, so they are forced to offshore the final stages of Axis Mapper production.
Fortunately, Mosaic Solutions and an Element FFF 3D printer were available to the RockMass engineering team. To find a workable FFF solution to assist with the internal prototyping and production of the AxisMapper V2, Mosaic Solutions combines its in-depth understanding of 3D printing tools and best practices with the expertise RockMass has in the industry. The answer was Element.
RockMass is able to prototype designs for the external casing of AxisMapper in just 4 days thanks to Element. Due to Element's unique multi-material capabilities, the entire external case of Axis Mapper could be printed in all of its different colors using just one print process. In addition, the Element's large printing bed enables them to precisely print multiple internal mounts and fixtures on a single bed, effectively enabling full-scale in-house production. Regarding the structural strength of these components, Element would no longer be priced out of the industrial grade materials that could only be printed with expensive industrial machines thanks to its selection of print materials and overall low cost.
The cherry on top was that the design team would be able to work together and operate the machine remotely, maximizing uptime, thanks to Element's cloud-based splicing software, Canvas. The high usability of Canvas also made it simple for other RockMass members to view and contribute to the design of the process before print, preventing the need to place the entire operational burden of Element on one team member.
Users will have personalized profiles to help them work on the right files faster, and we won't have to worry about the right files being on a USB stick connected to the printer.
The Axis Mapper may only appear to be a measurement tool from the outside, but once those sensors and electronics are integrated with the printed components from the Element, RockMass has a simple, inexpensive solution that they can offer to their clients with a significantly shorter lead time. The engineering team is also looking forward to working with FFF, Element, and Mosaic in the future to scale production even more and create new products that will better serve their sector.