Assisting industry partners in reverse engineering and additive manufacturing (3D printing) of samples in order to more quickly bring innovative products to market
Since childhood, Gordon Maretzki has been dismantling and assembling things – radios, machinery, cars – and then inventing new products and processes throughout his entire career. So a new lab, filled with cutting-edge technology and manufacturing equipment, is a veritable playground for this engineer/inventor, who thrives on solving problems.
This passion for the intricacies of design engineering is being imparted to the students he now mentors as a Research Lead in the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at the Welland campus.
“It’s pretty rewarding to see these young minds light up when cool things happen.”
He’s currently working with a local nut grower to help design a machine to crack the unique heartnut – more precisely, a machine that will open the nut without harming the shell or the inside kernel. All jokes about it being a “heartnut to crack” aside, Maretzki says it’s quite a complex problem, given the asymmetry of the shells.
So he understands first-hand the benefits for small- and medium-sized enterprises and the immense incentive for industry to work with the College. “We’ve got all this horsepower and all this technology ready to be unleashed … and industry can test drive these resources and see if this is for them.”
His former projects fall in the category of unique: refitting machines used in infectious disease research for Health Canada; designing solar hot-water collectors; and a personal venture in the design of a guitar pickup that found him heading to Nashville to market.
His mechanical aptitude now serves him well for repairing farm machinery on his 47-acre century farm in Beamsville. This is also where his large family – his wife and eight children – practice the agrarian lifestyle, which values the ideals of a rural society.
|Type of institution|
Niagara College Canada, Welland Campus, Niagara College Boulevard, Welland, ON, Canada
|I have a knowledge mobilization grant.|
Introduce your team
My name is Gordon Maretzki, I’m a professional engineer. I am a research lead here at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center. I work together with the team here which consists of a lab manager, co-op students, associate students, and other research leads. As well as a lab tech.
Our research here is applied research which means that we take industry partners’ ideas and we apply our technologies and try and move them further along in the commercialization process. An industry partner may approach us with just as small as a concept idea and they may have a market for this and they’re looking for ways to bring this to market. Or we may have another industry partner at the other end of the scale who has quite a well-developed idea and they just need our technical assistance to further commercialize their products.
The technologies that we specialize here at the center are reverse engineering which essentially means a very precise measurement in metrology, additive manufacturing which is a fancy word for 3d printing, and 3d modeling and analysis. Those are three main technologies that we try to leverage to assist our industry partners to bring their products to market.
Explain its significance
So, why is this relevant and it’s relevant for a number of reasons. Firstly We are helping companies bring products to market. We help them develop their products so that they have a larger market base that they improve their technologies and potentially have an export market they can address.
Secondly companies are often reluctant to try new things. This gives them the opportunity to come to our Center try out the new technologies the 3d printing the reverse engineering the 3d CAD modeling and see if that works for them. We can help them develop a product using these new technologies and if successful which often it is. They can now incorporate these new technologies into their overall operation.
Thirdly the relationship that the students have with the technology partners is invaluable. The students get to work on real problems real world issues work with real industry partners and hone their skills accordingly.
Often industry partners will end up hiring one of our coops because they’ve worked on a project with the industry partner. They’ve seen how the student works, observed their work ethic, observed their work technical skills and have trained their student to their processes. So the student can leave our Center after they graduate and hit the ground running with this new employer.