Canadore College's Innovation lab produces multi-tool for mining on other planets

Evan Butler-Jones, a research leader at I-CAMP, Canadore College’s Innovation lab, jumped at the opportunity to help mining equipment manufacturers Atlas Copco and Deltion Innovations design a multi-tool for mining in space.

Sometimes you look up and say ‘I’m really doing this,’ says Evan Butler-Jones

Evan Butler-Jones, a researcher at Canadore College's I-CAMP, collaborated with two mining equipment manufacturers to build a "multi tool" for use in space. (Evan Butler Jones)

Evan Butler-Jones has just wrapped up a dream project.

The research leader at I-CAMP, Canadore College's Innovation lab, recently helped design a multi-tool for mining in space. He couldn't show CBC News the tool, because its considered a top-secret project.

The self-described "space nerd" told CBC's Up North his entire team loved working on the project, which was proposed by mining equipment manufacturers Atlas Copco and Deltion Innovations.

"At first we said 'it's great!'" Butler-Jones said.

"Then we said, 'what are we getting ourselves into together?"

"We first had to sit down and solve the design problems," he said.

"Sometimes you look up and say, 'I'm really doing this,' then head back down and figure out the next problem to solve."

Using a 3D metal printer in I-CAMP's labs, Butler-Jones worked with the manufacturers' designers to come up with the multi-tool, which he said will be affixed to the end of a robotic arm.

Although he's not privy to all the information, Butler-Jones said the tool will be used by astronauts for various exploration needs.

"It's not going to be like a huge drill rig on the side of the road," Butler-Jones said.

"It's going to be launched out to the moon or Mars or asteroids, [so] it's got to be fairly small."

Butler-Jones said now that the design and building of the tool is completed, it goes through a long period of testing.

"You don't get a lot of tries at it," he said. "You want to get it right the first time."

Listen to the interview here


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