A 3D-printed, claw-like device is saving the owners of a sugar processing plant more than $10,000 per year.
It was designed by 27-year-old Daniel Marks, who was working as an apprentice draftsman with Sunshine Sugar.
The robotic part, used about 100,000 times per day to remove excess packaging from sealed sugar bags, had previously been made of steel.
Mr Marks redesigned the part so it could be 3D-printed and made from a thermoplastic known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).
The steel part, which needed regular replacing, cost about $1,400, whereas Mr Marks’s design cost $40.
“I had to do a lot of research and development in the design so that it would last as long as the steel part was lasting,” he said.
“Because it’s a 3D-printed part, the company didn’t have to invest in manufacturing it because we were buying it from a supplier, and I had supplied the design, so that was a big saving as well.
“I was the first one to start 3D drawings in the company, so when they saw what I was capable of they were very happy.”
Mr Marks, an engineering student at the Wollongbar campus of North Coast TAFE, was named 2016 North Coast Apprentice of the Year at the North Coast Training Awards, and student of the year at the North Coast TAFE awards.
He said the recognition affirmed his decision to move to Australia from India in 2008.
“I wanted to study an apprenticeship that would teach me the standards of Australia, what they do and how things are done,” Mr Marks said.
“It definitely was not an easy process, starting from scratch.
“But, career-wise it was very good. I was always very focused on what I wanted in my life.”
Mr Marks recently married and settled in the Tweed Valley community of Tanglewood, where he plans to stay for the near future while continuing work and study.
He said he hoped to continue working with 3D-printing technology and teaching others.
“I want to share my knowledge with future generations,” Mr Marks said.
“And I’ll definitely be staying in Australia, as Australia has looked after me very well.”