RTU presents two prototypes of the prototech software programme for the construction and music industries
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With the support of the «PROTOTECH» programme, Riga Technical University (RTU) has prototyped two more innovations: an engineering device that connects fibreglass reinforcement bars with a specifically designed polymer compound to create a reinforcement mesh; and a new device for musicians that will provide a wireless instrument connection, monitoring system and digital mixing console all in one product.

«Our client is Alise Novikova, representing HMP Group, a manufacturer of glass fibre reinforcement. This reinforcement can replace metal and the main benefit is its resistance to aggressive environments and corrosion. This also makes it possible to pour concrete where more long-term durability is needed, for example in different floors, roads or for use in infrastructure near the sea where the environment is more aggressive and iron would rust,» says Kārlis Kalniņš, Head of the Innovative Product Development Department at RTU's Science and Innovation Centre, outlining the background to the first project. The solution the client needed was a machine model that could join these reinforcing bars together to create a mesh, proving and testing that the technology works in its intended form, at the intended level and operational efficiency. The model was developed in collaboration with RTU's Faculty of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and the task was by no means easy, as the machine is designed for industrial operation. «It was a matter of covering the entire mechanical stability of a complex system consisting of more than 30 injection moulding machines, all of which had to be put together to function in the long term - simulations had to be carried out, loads and required capacities had to be calculated,» says K. Kalniņš, reflecting on the work.

The prototype of the new equipment for musicians is based on «Evaluation boards» and commercially available components (e.g. antennas, radio splitter, etc.) available in the electronics industry. The client Denis Gradalev wanted to complete and interconnect the electronics component system with the support of the «PROTOTECH» programme and finally receive a prototype product with a fully working eight-channel duplex wireless radio: a core unit and eight bodypack units for testing under real conditions (concerts, rehearsals). By combining three functions (wireless instrument connection, wireless monitoring system and digital mixing console) in one unit, amateur bands could easily set up their sound system on small stages, while significantly reducing sound testing time. «This product is essentially made up of two parts: the bodypack unit, which sits next to the musician, and the core unit, which is the central point through which all the information passes,» explains K. Kalniņš. This project was not without its challenges. «In the original vision, these bodypacks were supposed to be walkie-talkie-sized objects to be placed on the body, on the instrument belt, but when all the electronic components that had to go into the bodypack were packed away, it became clear that the intended size would not correspond to reality,» he recalls. As work continued, the optimal size and shape of the objects were found.

«PROTOTECH» is a prototyping programme created by the Technology Business Centre of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, which provides support to individuals and legal entities in the design and development of prototypes of science-intensive technology products or services in cooperation with leading Latvian universities - RTU, University of Latvia and Riga Stradins University. The project is implemented under the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 Programme «Entrepreneurship Development, Innovation and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises». 15 000 EUR has been received for the development of each prototype. The project received EUR 15 million in support.

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