With the end of the year fast approaching, the Caliber Design team would like to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable festive season. We’ll be closing over the festive period with our last day being Friday 21st December and starting back on Monday 7th of January.

One of Caliber’s key values is the “continual pursuit of growth and learning”. Whether it’s expanding our own knowledge through study, keeping up with what’s happening in the industry, reflecting on the past, or supporting the next generation of engineers coming through, so it’s no surprise an education theme has provided the focus for this quarter’s newsletter.

Enjoy the lead up to Christmas. Call us if you need a hand to keep your projects on track over the summer period.


There are over 600 free online courses you can do through 190 universities worldwide. These courses are collectively called MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses.

Collaborative robot safety? Engineering the space shuttle? Emotional intelligence at work? The options are endless!

A number of NZ universities are offering MOOCs, you can see them here. The future of education starts now!


Here’s an interesting article from the Radio NZ “Our Changing World” series about a testing and development program that’s measuring the load and environmental impacts on cardboard boxes, with the plan to make them smarter.

In a sophisticated testing facility named The White Room, SCION researchers are able to measure how long a box will last, at what point it will collapse, and how much load it can withstand.


BoredPanda published a series of photographs of what drawing offices looked like before AutoCAD.

One of our contacts recalls daily “printing practice” in the Post Office drawing office in 1965 … “This involved forming letters in the Gothic font from a height of 4 inches down to a working height of 1/8th of an inch. This was a morning ritual, before we Juniors were allowed to put the ink pen and nib to the Linen Drawings, a practice I did for twenty years.”

AUT Final Year Engineering Project awards

We were proud that Caliber Design was part of the judging team at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Final Year Engineering Project awards this year. We were part of the ‘’project commercialisation’’ judging team and there were some fantastic projects showing some real innovation and commercial promise. We’d like to congratulate all the final year students who presented – very inspiring stuff!!

In particular we’d like to congratulate Isaac Maunsell on his “Peristaltic Heart Assistant System” project. This was a very clever, purpose built, heart vein simulating Rapid Prototyping machine. This project showed some real ingenuity, was super clever in its simplicity, and was very well resolved. The judges were most impressed with how much thought had gone into not just the design, but the prototype itself. We understood that Isaac had designed and built the unit from the ground up – including the electronics, mechanical design, and applicator system – again very simple, but effective. This unit now allows medical researchers to accurately and quickly make prototype parts for testing with far more consistency and in a fraction of time taken to manufacture using their current methodology.

Images courtesy of Andrew Hilton, AUT Business Development Manager

Contact  |  Jonathan Prince, Director

The Business Value of Simulation

Most companies these days are familiar with the immediate financial benefits of simulation over physical prototyping. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg – there are a multitude of benefits that go well beyond this.

A good simulation model will allow you to build up a detailed understanding of your product, more so than any physical prototype. Physical prototypes do have the added advantage of including real world effects, but getting accurate measurements can be fraught with difficulties, really slowing down the learning process. Combine the two approaches for the best results.

Say your original concept didn’t work as planned. With simulation, it’s quick to make a simple design change and re-test. Combine this with lean methodology and you can iterate designs incredibly quickly at relatively low cost and without waiting weeks for a prototype to be built.

High staff turnover is a fact of life for many business nowadays. A loss in a key individual can be devastating to your in-house knowledge. By having detailed simulation models, the handover process to new staff is more straightforward.

Knowing more about the performance of your product means that you know more about how and when it will fail. Simulation will help you target your testing on the failure modes that matter.

A picture says a thousand words – perhaps more if you’ve ever tried explaining a particularly awkward scatter plot! 3D Simulation plots can be an intuitive way to educate your customers about your product. They also provide fantastic marketing collateral.

If you’d like to read more on the topic of the business value of simulation, here’s an interesting article from Jim Brown at Tech-Clarity Inc. It’s a very good, easy read and well worth a look if you’re trying to understand how to cut development spending yet increase product quality.

Contact  |  Ashley Brittenden, Design Manager

We have moved!

Our Auckland Office has moved! We’re now located at 597 Rosebank Road, Avondale. PO Box 71-084, Rosebank, Auckland 1348. The location is fantastic and we’re excited to become part of the active Rosebank business community.

The Next Generation

I recently had a chance to take a look at some new and exciting research in the fields of mechanical and mechatronic engineering, and talk to the students who will be the next generation of the profession, at the University of Auckland Final Year Projects day. I represented Caliber Design as one of around 30 industry judges selected from a broad spectrum of the mechanical engineering design and manufacturing sector, industry bodies, and learned societies.

Caliber presented a prize for the project which best covered the complete product design process; from concepts and theory to prototypes and testing, into a developed, feasible product. This was awarded to “Autonomous Package Delivery with a New Class of Reconfigurable Drones” which saw the students develop a universal payload gripping arrangement for a UAV (drone). You may see it implemented if Amazon commence delivery by UAV in New Zealand.

In most years some definite themes emerge in the types of projects presented. This year saw many projects based on novel and applied use of UAVs, several which explored potential applications for Internet of Things/Industry 4.0 devices in improving manufacturing and processing efficiency, and some projects which tested the feasibility of various composite materials.

Some of these projects were industry-sponsored, which will likely give the students who completed them the important next step of an internship (necessary to complete their degree); and a first job, where they will continue their education and learn how to apply their knowledge and understanding to use in a commercial environment. The rest of the students will be out and about, actively seeking that essential next step. So for the sake of the continued health and vitality of the engineering profession, I encourage you to consider taking interns for the summer period. We all have to start somewhere.

Contact  |  Simon Hall, Design Manager

Our Summer Intern – Simon Woywod

“I am the new summer intern from Germany. As part of my Bachelor Degree, we need to gain some hands on experience working as an engineer for six months. I chose this remote island you call home because of its beautiful, untouched nature, the friendly people, and to experience the less hectic coastal lifestyle, we don’t really have in Germany. Christchurch is a really good spot for paragliding, which I started one year ago. It has lots of flying sites close by and a really active community, that can’t wait to get in the air during summer.

Most of my time during my stay will be focused on the Spinal Traction Unit for Caliber Design. It’s a device that attaches to a hospital bed/stretcher, providing tension to a patients spine using some sort of clamp on the head and a mechanical tensioning system. With up to 40kg’s pulling on the human body, the goal is to put a dislocated vertebrae back in place, which moved because of a low impact injury caused by a car accident or a sports related incident. The project has been going for some time. Some parts, like the strap system, need to be redesigned to give the patient and the hospital staff a better experience.

During the summer in Germany, a fellow student and I were working on the weekends in a Daimler factory (Rastatt) close to our hometown (Karlsruhe). Here, over 300.000  “A” and “B” classes are being manufactured every year. Our job was to quality control the new clamping tools and their relative position to the placement and welding robots for the facelifted “A” class using a high precision laser tracker. The clamping tools hold parts of the body shell in place, while the spot welding robot fuses them together. The top left photo above shows my friend John taking measurements from a robot nearby.”

Shortage of resources? Looming deadline? Skill gap that needs to be filled?
We have talented engineers with experience and innovative ideas, ready to help. Just drop us a line!

Wayne Le Sueur
021 140 4944

Andrew Jackson
021 774 286