Rockmass Technologies: Product Development and Manufacturing With Element

Founded in 2016 RockMass Technologies aims to provide an entire industry of mechanical engineers a comprehensive data collection system to help make digital geotechnical data collection and management as safe as possible. RockMass has also recognized the need for highly accurate innovative geotechnical tools that can be used on sight and stand up to any of the challenges the hard rock mining industry might throw at them. With those considerations in mind, they put their team of advanced engineers to the test and developed the Axis Mapper product line.

From hard rock mine operations, to tunnelling contractors/consultants and potential applications in open-pit mining and quarry digging, Axis Mapper is designed to help get the right information into the hands of mining professionals. RockMass is also continuously looking for ways to advance the technology available to their industry and looks beyond just the Axis Mapper product line

“Our goal is to work together with clients to provide data collection and management solutions that enable data driven and timely decisions. Our solutions increase productivity, reduce cost and time by automating processes, and enable a safer working environment.”

                                          -Matt Gubasta, Co-Founder | RockMass Technologies

The Challenge

Just as entering perilous environments poses a risk of damaging people, the tools they carry with need to be equally as rugged. From a tough, 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, engineering these parts requires extensive durability testing. Even further still, these components need to be tough, lightweight and in the case of internal fixtures, they also need to be precise. As with any product, it’s also nice to be able to control aesthetic properties of shape and colour as well. 

Traditional casting and CNC methods allowed RockMass to mould the original Axis Mapper casing and internal sensor mounts out of high-strength urethane, materials well suited to the desired application. However, that isn’t without its caveats. These production and prototyping methods are costly processes and lead times could stretch to 5 weeks or beyond. Prototyping would generate an even greater cost, and RockMass would subsequently have to limit what revisions they could make. This also means they are forced to off-shore final production of Axis Mapper, as the equipment required to cast in-house is cost prohibitive. 


The Solution

Fortunately the engineering team at RockMass had access to Mosaic Solutions and an Element FFF 3D printer. Mosaic Solutions pairs our extensive knowledge of 3D printing tools and best practices with the industry-specific knowledge RockMass has to find a viable FFF solution to help prototype and produce the AxisMapper V2 in-house. Element was that solution.

Element allows RockMass to prototype designs for AxisMapper’s external casing with a drastically reduced turnaround time of 4 days. Element’s specific multi-material capabilities allowed them to print the entire external case of Axis Mapper in all of its various colours with a single print process. The large printing bed of Element also allows them to print multiple internal mounts and fixtures with high-precision and on a single bed, essentially allowing for full on in-house production. As for the structural capability of these components, Element‘s repertoire of available print materials and overall low cost means that they would no longer be priced out of the industrial grade materials that could only be printed with high-cost industrial machines.

“One of the things that the design team finds most exciting about Element is that we have access to printing materials we wouldn’t have been able to use before without investing in a more cost-prohibitive industrial system.” 

                                            -Matt Gubasta, Co-Founder | RockMass Technologies

The icing on the cake was that Element’s cloud based splicing software of Canvas would also allow the design team to collaborate and operate the machine remotely, and maximise uptime. The high usability of Canvas also easily allowed additional members of the RockMass to see and contribute to the design of the process before-print, without having to put all the operational aspects of Element on a single member of the team.  

“We no longer need to worry about the right files being on a USB stick connected to the printer and users will have individualized profiles to help them work on the right files faster. "

The Future

The Axis Mapper may just seem like a measurement tool on the outside, but when those sensors and electronics are housed together with the printed parts from the Element, RockMass is left with an easily replicable, low cost solution that they could then deliver to their customers with a much shorter production lead time. The engineering team also has its sights set on a future with FFF, Element and Mosaic, in order to help scale up production even further and develop new products to better support their industry.

“From a management perspective, we can see how Element will allow us to increase the rate at developing new products beyond just the Axis Mapper system.”

Want to learn more about how Element can make your prototyping and production processes more seamless? Learn more by emailing!

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