The engineering behind The Queen's Baton | Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

The Queens Baton

Credit: Queens Baton Relay | Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

29 July 2022

Author: Kelly Raymont-Osman


Kelly Raymont-Osman (Raymont-Osman Product Design) explains how engineering proved central to the design and manufacture of the Queen’s Baton ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Last night saw the culmination of the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay – a journey through 72 Commonwealth nations and territories over 294 days and 90,000 miles. Launched by Her Majesty The Queen from Buckingham Palace last year, the Baton is equipped with an array of engineering innovations, including: a digital imaging sensor; GPS; and LED lights. The Baton also features an intricate mechanised chamber containing Her Majesty’s message to the Commonwealth, read out during the opening ceremony.

Raymont Osman

Credit: Raymont-Osman Product Design

The task of designing, engineering and manufacturing a Baton—which reflected the host city of Birmingham and the spirit of Commonwealth—was a complex one, undertaken by Mechanical Engineers and Product Designers at Raymont-Osman Product Design, with engineering specialists at Kajul, Coventry-based fusion artist network, MAOKWO, and technologists from BOM (Birmingham Open Media).

Embedded with cutting-edge QEPrize winning engineering, the first of its kind “smart Baton” also features LED lighting that shifts dynamically in response to each Baton-bearer’s heartbeat. It is fitted with a 360-degree camera to record and transmit real-time imagery and digital information, as well as GPS technology to track its location across Commonwealth communities. Atmospheric sensors within the Baton also contribute to ongoing research at the University of Birmingham, creating an increased awareness of air quality across the Commonwealth.

With Birmingham 2022 making history as the first major multi-sport event to include more medal events for women than men, the team were keen use the Baton to celebrate the strength and fortitude of women across the Commonwealth. The shape of the Baton differs from those seen in previous editions of the Queen’s Baton and is manufactured using accessible and relatable, non-precious metals: copper, aluminium, and brass.

Raymont Osman engnieering

Credit: Raymont-Osman Product Design

Following a working group session with artists and engineers, initial sketches were drawn up by industrial designers at Raymont-Osman ahead of the creation of block-models of the Baton internals and electronic layouts. Using SolidWorks, the team then generated detailed designs, ensuring optimal manufacturability and functionality of each component. One of the greatest challenges at this stage was the design of a mechanised message chamber which could be easily opened at the opening ceremony, whilst being able to withstand the rigours of global travel.

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Credit: Raymont-Osman Product Design

The desire to fuse cutting-edge techniques with tradition has heavily influenced the manufacturing methodology and final aesthetics of the Baton, along with a wish to celebrate West Midlands’ industry. As part of the Design for Manufacture process, a range of innovative manufacturing techniques were identified and local manufacturers sourced. 3D printing proved crucial to the project – within both the prototyping and manufacturing stages, with the Raymont-Osman team using a Formlabs Form 3L to 3D-print clear resin parts which were then encapsulated in nanocrystalline copper to form the distinctive outer leaves of the Baton.

A team of talented casters from A. Wardle & Co in Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter employed the traditional method of lost wax casting to create the central aluminium chassis, which was then TIG welded at Qualitig in Coventry, drawing upon the centuries of local expertise and craftsmanship that give Birmingham its reputation as the city of a thousand trades.

Kajul’s use of conventional tool making techniques, combined with modern CNC machining and CAD and CAM software, were also responsible for many of the internal working parts, including the central brass stamen, as well as display stands based on the iconic circular design of the Library of Birmingham.

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Credit: Raymont-Osman Product Design

Designers and artists were keen to ensure that the Baton evolves in appearance as it undertook its global journey around the Commonwealth, reacting with its environment as it travelled. Engineers employed an accelerated oxidation process, using vinegar, salt and ammonia to develop a striking blue-green patina on the vapour blasted copper surface.

Lining the length of the Baton is a platinum strand, paying homage to Her Majesty The Queen in her Platinum Jubilee year. Here, selective platinum electroplating has been applied to the polished copper.

As the Baton continued to travel and capture stories from Commonwealth communities, the fingerprints of every Batonbearer reacted with those copper elements to develop a warm tone, further enhancing the patina.

The Baton was changed by its journey, reflecting the inclusivity of the Commonwealth and its Games and that Birmingham, as host, is enhanced by the wonderful and diverse people that call it home.

The Queens Baton 2

Credit: Queens Baton Relay | Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

A synergy of engineering, technology, science and art, the Queen’s Baton represents the very best of the West Midlands - as both the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and a forward-thinking region which looks forward to welcoming visitors for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Kelly Raymont-Osman
More on the author, Kelly Raymont-Osman

Kelly Raymont-Osman is the Operations Director at Raymont-Osman Product Design, an energetic and ambitious Product Design consultancy based in rural Warwickshire.

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