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Innovative Queen’s Baton unveiled

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THE Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton was recently unveiled by prime minister John Howard and the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Corporation at an official ceremony held at Parliament House, Canberra.

Designed by Charlwood Design, and manufactured by Rosebank Engineering , the Queen’s baton features world first digital and communication technology and is designed to gather together all Commonwealth nations and people in the most interactive relay in Commonwealth Games history.

The baton contains sophisticated equipment and technology never before been seen in a Commonwealth Games baton. Cutting edge tracking technology, using radio frequency identification (RFID) will enable information such as the runners’ name, image, location, motion, speed and direction, to be transferred direct from the baton to the games website via satellite. The baton tracker uses the latest accelerometer and global positioning system technology to pinpoint the exact location of the baton at any time.

Charlwood Design approached Rosebank, seeking a manufacturer skilled in the technology of advanced and exotic materials, to manufacture the baton.

“The final manufacturing program incorporated 744,000 lines of NC code covering the baton’s 1,544 surfaces, 225 machining operations and 27 different tools that are required to produce the finished item. Cycle time was 30 hours,” Rosebank’s operations manager Melbourne, Paul PingNam said.

The baton is made from AZ91 magnesium, produced by Victorian company Magnesium Technologies. Project manager David Bridges said Rosebank and Magnesium Technologies worked together to achieve the machinability characteristics needed to produce the baton. “This was essential as no suitable traditional overseas sources of Magnesium met our need,” Bridges said.

Rosebank developed special operational and OH&S procedures to produce the baton as the possibility of fire caused by heat generated while machining the magnesium was a major concern. When machining in an enclosed space, an additional issue was the presence of hydrogen gases which, when married with magnesium could cause an explosion.

PingNam said trials in aluminium were initiated to ensure methodology, surface finish (especially on the visual side of the baton slot area) and tolerances were met. “Weight was also critical. The requirement to accommodate the complex electronics and camera housing meant that we needed to balance the need for especially thin walls to ensure that the baton was not too heavy for the runners yet retain enough strength to withstand the demands of a multiplicity of runners and environments over the duration of the relay,” PingNam said.

Rosebank’s machine shop supervisor Peter Hocking said special oils and processes were adopted to ensure that corrosion was avoided throughout the whole process of manufacture and materials handling, with the surface of the Queen’s baton being specially treated.

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