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3D Printing in the Marine Industry

3D Printing has been a disruptive force across a wide range of industries for almost a decade. From the Automobile to Aerospace industry, 3D printing has inspired a rethink & reimagination of traditional ways of design, prototyping & manufacturing methods. This disruptive breach can also be seen in the Marine Industry.

New Product Development, as usual, is the first victim of this disruption caused by 3DP in the marine industry. Whether it is the design of a ship’s interior or the shape of its hull, virtually designed models of these, can be rapidly 3D printed. Showcasing new designs of a ship’s interior or exterior, based on a certain operational profile, can also be achieved using the speed of 3D printing. 3DP also helps in fabrication of new tools, that can be used in making the actual manufacturing process faster. 3D printed sand molds can be used to make casted impellers, turbines & pump casings.

Unleashing the creative side of making ships is not the only advantage 3DP brings to the marine industry. The clinical & rapid manufacturing of parts, using just the right amount of raw material makes it economical, to make custom designs, which under traditional methods would be economically unfeasible. This is particularly relevant in marine operations, where different ships are needed for unique climates & applications, making customization in terms of design & build material paramount. For example, ships intended for long voyages can be built with parts & designs that ensure minimum energy consumption, decreasing overall energy consumption of the ship. This is particularly relevant to aircraft carriers that rely on several nuclear reactors to fuel their voyages. 

3D printing is known to reduce weight of parts, by printing whole them whole & making them lighter & stronger in the process. Reducing the weight of ships, by 3D printing major parts whole, allows them to carry more cargo, increasing their utility in a wide range of fields like shipping & defense. 

Wear & tear is a common occurrence in the marine sector, where ships are exposed to some of the harshest conditions on the planet. 3DP provides the advantage of repair services that are time & application sensitive. Parts of a ship that need replacement, can be 3D printed, in port, in a timely manner, facilitating longer service lives for ships that endure heavy wear & tear.

Last but not least, reproducing parts that have been made obsolete, due to high costs associated with high traditional methods, is an easy thing to achieve with 3D printing. By scanning existing models of such parts, 3D printing can reproduce these at a fraction of the original cost & in a faster time frame. 

Although, 3D printing whole ships is still a distant reality, the infancy of 3D printing in the marine sector is poised to change it forever, upon maturity. The time when fleets will be 3D printed on demand is not far away.  

3D Printing & the Marine Industry

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