TAFE Queensland reduces raw material waste by 68% amid global material shortages

As the world scratches the bottom of the barrel for raw materials, TAFE Queensland is turning to new technology to form future and current commercial businesses in the state.

Boiler apprentices use augmented reality (RA), similar to virtual reality, which allows users to view digitally designed 3D images on benches, workspaces, and real-life machinery.

The technology allows to teach courses of welding by means of AR, what means to waste 68% less of materials that in the past.

How it works

With a screen inside the helmet, the user can place their virtual welding torch against a plastic board with a right angle or curved joints.

Mandy Elliott, head of business development at TAFE Queensland, says the user presses the torch trigger down as they would with a real torch and can see sparks and welds across the screen.

Augmented reality covers digital images of what the wearer is doing.(

ABC North West Queensland: Kemii Maguire

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“The screen lights up green when it is at the right angle and you need to follow the lines to complete the complete weld at a certain speed,” he said.

Elliot said that while beginner learners could use AR, the technology was more useful for specific welds that had more difficulty and led to more waste of materials in practice.

Welding screen
The green lights flash when the inclination of the welding torch is correct.(

ABC North West Queensland: Kemii Maguire

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“The specific welding is called ISO9606, which is a five-day welding certification, which is mainly used in the field of defense,” he said.

Elliott said other TAFE courses have also been using AR to teach specific tasks.

“In health, we have glasses that our students can experience for what a patient might go through. This is an example,” he said.

“RA is something TAFE needs to invest in. We need to build our capacity.”

Scrape the barrel for raw materials

ANZ Commodities analyst Daniel Hynes says commodities such as demand for iron ore and coal have risen from a pandemic standpoint.

A claimant at the Fortescue facility in Port Hedland collects and mixes iron ore from a large pile.
Iron ore prices have risen during the pandemic.(

ABC News: Rachel Pupazzoni

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“China is really looking for any raw material to feed its steel industry,” Hynes said.

“Because supply is well below normal levels, this is driving up prices for Australians.”

My Hynes said industries such as construction have had to find creative alternatives during the shortage of materials.

“[Along with AR] we’ve also seen a lot of companies incorporate scrap metal into their process, ”he said.

A welder working with sparks flying at AGI in Sydney.
The AR joins the welding courses at TAFE, Queensland.(

ABC News: Adam Wyatt

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Elliott says there are currently 10 AR welding machines in North Queensland.

Although AR technology was introduced in Mount Isa this month, TAFE Queensland only has the courses available in Townsville and Cairns, but it has the potential to expand.

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