Manufacturing the future – Invest Medicine Hat

Manufacturing the future

News / Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Medicine Hat College’s 3D printing and scanning equipment give Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs) companies a leg up on the competition. Invest Medicine Hat sat down with fabrication technician Steven Penzes to learn more.

Medicine Hat College is southeast Alberta’s leading post- secondary institution, and is a stone’s throw from Canada’s only Transport Canada-approved UAV beyond-line-of-sight airspace.

But the institute of higher learning is also home to advanced manufacturing equipment including a Fortus 400mc 3D printer, a Faro Edge Arm and Laser Tracker, and Artec Spider scanners.

“We’re at the cutting edge of building prototypes,” says fabrication technician Steven Penzes. ““The scanners are good for making organic shapes, such as an aircraft wing.”

Penzes has more than a decade of experience working with 3D printers and scanners. He was the technician at CFB Suffield for many years before he began working at Medicine Hat College.

The equipment that Penzes oversees gives local manufacturing companies a jump on the competition when it comes to building and testing prototypes, tools and end-use parts.

Once Penzes has a digital design file he can start to process the client’s printing project. He has worked with industry clients, such as QinetiQ create prototypes.

The Fortus 400mc 3D printer uses fused deposition modeling to create a variety of parts, such as jigs and fixtures, that can stand up to metal bending, chemicals and fatigue. Parts can be printed in acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC), ultem (polythermide) and nylon.

The Artec Spider and the Faro EdgeArm and Laser Tracker create three-dimensional precision prototypes for industry.

On the service side of the industry, Unmanned Systems Canada and Transport Canada are aware of the impending market for UAV’s and are working together to develop safety regulations.

Currently, Canada’s UAV regulations are some of the most advanced in the developed world, which has led to major US companies, such as Amazon and Drone Delivery Canada looking to Canada to test beyond-visual-line-of-site technology.

Located near the Foremost UAS Range and CFB Suffield, Medicine Hat is perfectly situated for UAV manufacturers to evaluate their prototypes. In fact, history was made in Foremost airspace when the first Transport Canada approved UAV took flight on March 3.

Armed with advanced 3D printing and scanning capabilities, Medicine Hat is emerging as an ideal location for the UAV market that’s estimated to be worth over $82 billion dollars within ten years.