The Australian RV industry is given a significant boost in 3D printing with a government grant of $1.16 million.


Road Trips in RVs Surge in Popularity: ZoneRV Harnesses 3D Printing to Innovate the Caravan World

2020 was marked by a significant decline in air travel, with international trips dropping by a staggering 73% due to the pandemic. However, as airplane journeys took a backseat, road trips in RVs soared in popularity. With people opting for domestic adventures on four wheels, Australian caravan manufacturer Zone RV seized the opportunity to merge cutting-edge technology with the renewed love for the open road.

Based on the Sunshine Coast, Zone RV made waves in the industry by acquiring the title for the largest 3D printer in the Southern Hemisphere. This massive system, boasting a volume of 22m x 5m x 1.6m, demonstrates Zone RV’s determination to break new ground and solidifies its reputation for producing off-road caravans. The VSF122 composite printer, courtesy of CNC Design, plays a vital role in their innovative strides.

What sets Zone RV’s caravans apart is their use of technology from the aeronautical and marine industries, resulting in lighter, stronger, and safer vehicles with all-composite bodies and cabinetry systems. By keeping the weight below the vehicle’s Gross Combined Mass (GCM), these caravans are built to tackle Australia’s rough terrains. Designed specifically for corrugated roads, the caravans are constructed on a custom chassis and equipped with specially crafted CruiseMaster suspension systems.

Established in 2016, Zone RV offers a range of Australian-made off-road caravans that prioritize luxury and quality. The attractive starting price of its BASE model, below AUD 100,000 ($64,280), adds to the appeal for many users. Additionally, Zone RV recently invested $7.5 million in a new 5,000-square-meter facility in Coolum Eco Industrial Park, further solidifying its position in the competitive Australian market.

Zone RV’s choice of the Virtual Smart Factory VSF122 large-area gantry-based machine from CNC Design has proven to be a game-changer. This behemoth combines 3D printing and machining in composite materials, enabling Zone RV to enhance their product delivery and flexibility in design and manufacturing. The company’s founder and CTO, Dave Biggar, states, “Having the largest 3D printer in the Southern Hemisphere? It’s a bold testament to Zone RV’s drive to redefine innovation in caravanning and Australian manufacturing as a whole.”

Installed in June 2022, this high-tech system is primarily utilized for trimming and polishing molds and printing blanks for mold creation. Zone RV is also working closely with CNC Design to pioneer new methods of directly printing large molds. The large area gantry incorporates five-axis milling and three-axis printing in a single machine. Equipped with Siemens SINUMERIK ONE, it represents the cutting edge of CNC systems today. The 10 kW, 20,000 rpm milling spindle from HSD Mechatronics enables five-axis milling, while swarf extraction efficiently removes waste material. The CNC Design Model 30 print head, capable of printing up to 30 kilograms per hour, enhances 3D printing capabilities. Additional features include five-axis orbital sanding, a built-in tool rack, and a print head calibration unit.

CNC Design’s transformative VSF concept, of which this machine is a crucial part, is redefining the production of large components in diverse sectors. From construction to entertainment, the VSF initiative demonstrates adaptability in producing parts from various materials like composites, plastics, concrete, and wax. CNC Design is establishing itself as a pioneer in additive manufacturing, crafting parts up to 30 meters long.

John Croft from CNC Design believes that Zone RV is at the forefront of revolutionizing advanced manufacturing. He expresses excitement about collaborating with the company, ensuring that they maximize the potential of this technological titan.

Thanks to a $1.16 million Made in Queensland (MiQ) grant, Zone RV was able to acquire the 3D printer, expand production, and create 99 new jobs. This not only fosters local employment but also contributes to the state’s economy. The grant period has enabled Zone RV to make significant strides, but they are just getting started in their journey to redefine innovation in the caravanning and Australian manufacturing industries.

Revolutionizing the Manufacturing Industry: Zone RV’s Success Story

In the bustling state of Queensland, Australia, the manufacturing industry is experiencing a significant boost in growth and innovation thanks to the Made in Queensland (MiQ) program. Zone RV, a leading manufacturer of caravans and recreational vehicles, is one such success story that has taken full advantage of the program’s benefits. With the help of a MiQ grant, Zone RV has not only expanded its business but has also made a groundbreaking leap in the realm of additive manufacturing.

Under the MiQ program, the Queensland government aims to support and promote local manufacturers, ultimately leading to the creation of more job opportunities for Queenslanders. With a workforce of 231 employees, Zone RV is a shining example of the program’s success. Over the past five years, MiQ has contributed to the region’s economic growth by generating over $100 million in private-sector investment.

Zone RV’s founder, David Biggar, commended the initiative, acknowledging the crucial role the MiQ grant played in the company’s expansion. “This Made in Queensland grant was a great help to the business,” Biggar stated. “We were able to take significant strides forward, thanks to the funding support we received from the Queensland Government. Additionally, being a part of Inside Advanced Manufacturing has allowed us to build connections with our peers and collaborate with other manufacturers, ultimately benefiting the entire sector. It’s an incredible opportunity.”

But Biggar’s ambition didn’t stop at caravans and recreational vehicles. Drawing on the success of Zone RV, he extended the application of a colossal 3D printer to his other venture, Cure Marine, a catamaran manufacturing company. This move showcased the diversity and potential of additive manufacturing. In December 2022, Cure Marine launched the CURE 55 performance cruising catamaran, which was produced using the capabilities of the 3D printer.

Zone RV’s incorporation of this significant 3D printer signifies a profound advancement in manufacturing techniques and highlights the industry’s transformative power in various subsectors. From caravans to marine vessels, the applications of additive manufacturing continue to expand. The partnership between Zone RV and CNC Design, strengthened by the support of the Queensland government, exemplifies a collaborative effort toward establishing a modern and technology-driven Australian manufacturing sector.

As the manufacturing industry in Queensland undergoes a remarkable transformation, it is important to stay informed about the latest advancements and opportunities. By keeping an eye on the 3D printing industry, manufacturers can stay ahead of the curve and seize new possibilities. Additionally, staying connected with third-party vendors can provide valuable information and exclusive offers to further enhance manufacturing capabilities.

In conclusion, Zone RV’s success story is a testament to the power of government support, innovation, and collaboration within the manufacturing industry. Through programs like MiQ, Queensland is fostering an environment where businesses can thrive, economies can grow, and new technologies can revolutionize traditional manufacturing practices. The future of Australian manufacturing looks bright, and it is up to manufacturers to seize the opportunities presented to them.

Original source


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