The maritime industry may not yet be at the same stage as, say, the aerospace or automotive industries in terms of additive manufacturing adoption, but there have been some tangible steps on the parts of shipping companies, ship manufacturers and port authorities to explore and accelerate the use of maritime additive manufacturing applications. On the marine side, as well, additive manufacturing is increasingly being used to produce custom or small batch components for yachts and sailboats.
As with any new technology adoption, the maritime and marine segments are currently experiencing a lot of “firsts” with 3D printing. As part of our AM Focus this month, we’re going to take a look at some of the most exciting and boundary-pushing announcements in the intersecting maritime and AM sectors.
Additive Manufacturing for the Maritime Industry
30th April 2019 — 3 pm BST | 10 am EDT
Newport News delivers first metal 3D printed for U.S. Navy aircraft carrier
In February 2018, Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) delivered the first ever metal 3D printed part to be installed aboard a nuclear-powered U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. The part, a 3D printed piping assembly, had been in the works for some time and has now been installed on the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) warship, marking a significant milestone for the use of AM for the production of warship parts.
For the next year, the 3D printed component will be carefully monitored and evaluated aboard the aircraft carrier. If all goes well, there is a strong likelihood that other metal parts will begin to be integrated into nuclear-powered warships.
Singapore Maritime and Port Authority announces first on-site AM facility for port applications
Known for having one of the world’s most active ports, it is no surprise that Singapore has been interested in the adoption of new technologies such as additive manufacturing to advance and digitalize its industry. Last October, Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) signed an MoU with leading global port group PSA, NAMIC and 3D MetalForge Pte Ltd. to establish the world’s first on-site additive manufacturing production facility for port applications.
The facility will be located at the Pasir Panjang Terminal and will be equipped with a range of state-of-the-art 3D printing systems. Presently, PSA is testing various port technologies at the Pasir Panjang Terminal. Even more recently, Singapore MPA partnered with DNV GL and other companies from the Singapore Ship Association to investigate the viability of using 3D printing technologies to produce spare parts for the maritime industry.
Naval Group and Centrale Nantes 3D print world’s first hollow propeller blade
Another exciting first for the maritime industry was announced just two months ago, when Naval Group and Centrale Nantes 3D printed the first demonstrator of hollow propeller blades using metal AM. The achievement was part of the European H2020 project RAMSSES, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of ships.
Centrale Nantes and Naval Group have been leveraging additive manufacturing to design and produce large propeller parts (measuring up to 6 meters in diameter) which could help to improve vessel propulsion. The hollow propeller blade demonstrator was printed using Wire Arc for Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) process from stainless steel. The one-third-scale blade, which was printed in under one hundred hours, weighed in at about 300 kg, making it about 40% lighter than conventionally manufactured parts.
Thermwood validates direct additive manufacturing of yacht hull molds
Turning to the marine segment, large-scale additive expert Thermwood made waves last December when it announced it was validating additive manufacturing for the direct production of yacht hull molds. Prior to the achievement, the company had used AM to create a full-size pattern that was used to produce a mold of a sports boat hull. Being a much larger scale than sports boats, yachts are not well suited for pattern-based molds; it is better to produce the hull molds directly.
The 1/7th scale test mold for the project spanned about seven feet in length (the full-size hull is approximately 50 feet). It was printed from 20% carbon fiber filled ABS using Thermwood’s LSAM additive manufacturing system. Six separate pieces of different lengths (the longest two being over seven feet in length) were printed concurrently using LSAM’s Vertical Layer Print capability. Printing required about 30 hours.
OCore directly 3D prints first sailboat hull for Mini Transat Ocean Race 2019
Last December, Italian startup OCore presented the world’s first 3D printed sailboat hull at the Circolo della Vela Sicilia sailing club. The project, which was supported by various companies including Autodesk and LEHVOSS Group, was years in the making.
The body and other functional parts of the 6.5-meter-long ocean racer boat were manufactured by 3D printing. The technology, along with other digital production processes, allowed for reduced production costs, more manufacturing flexibility and a faster time to market. The sailboat hull, printed from a custom material by LEHVOSS Group (LUVOCOM 3F PAHT CF), will be taken to the waters for testing this year.