MERCHANT ships are massive — often spanning a few hundred feet — and have thousands of moving parts.
Given the progress made by cross-border trade and commerce post-globalization, and the recent rise of e-commerce, more than 50,000 ships undertake nearly half-a-million voyages every year.
To avoid catastrophes while at sea, merchant ships need to be serviced often. One of the major costs that merchant ship owners have to account for when it comes to maintenance is the inventory cost of spare parts given the number of spares that must be carried at any given time.
The other challenge to effective maintenance is that ships travel from one port to another during its voyage. If something needs to be repaired when it is not at its home, spares must be sent to the port where it is docked.
The 3D printing industry was worth $3bn in 2013 and grew to $7bn in 2017. GlobalData forecasts the 3D printing market to account for more than $20bn in spend by 2025.
As 3D printing develops it is now starting to be realised in a wide variety of industries, but its potential in the aerospace and defence industry is significant and most major militaries and companies are exploring their options with the technology.
Some are still in the testing phase, while others are actually deploying the technology in final production. This is particularly true in the aerospace industry, where engines, aircraft and even satellites are using 3D printed components at present.
Listed below are the militaries that have taken an early lead in implementing 3D printing technology, as identified by GlobalData.
Formlabs, a 3D printing system manufacturer, and Dr Sam Pashneh-Tala, Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, have developed a 3D printing technique for complex artificial blood vessels which can aid surgery for cardiovascular disease.
Conventional surgical treatments for cardiovascular disease rely on autografts, which require invasive surgery. Synthetic vascular grafts made from polymer materials are also available, but these are prone to infection and blood clotting, especially in smaller diameter vessels. A new technique is needed, and this is where tissue engineering fits in, enabling new blood vessels to be grown in the lab and then used for implantation.
Last year, the Ramdani family in France, became the first in the world to move into a three-dimensionally-printed house.
A team of scientists and architects designed their comfy 95m² home in a studio, with the design programmed into a 3D printer. This was then brought to the site of the home and printed in layers from the floor upwards. After just 54 hours, the Ramdani family had a new four-bedroomed home.
But France isn’t the only country, which has embraced 3D technology to solve its housing issues.
3D printing was pioneered way back in 1986 but has recently begun to enter the public consciousness. Over the past ten years, it has blurred the boundaries between science fiction and fact. It is also known as Additive Manufacturing and is used in the automobile industry, aerospace & defence, retail and in the medical healthcare industry, amongst many others. A major component of this is the 3D printed drugs market. 3D printing helps make what was once expensive and inaccessible much more cost-effective. Can this be more apt and necessary anywhere else than in the field of medicine? 3D printing is already used to print artificial bones, to create surgical materials with 3D scans to replace a damaged or missing bone and even to create hearing aid devices. Skull implants have been made for people with head injuries and even titanium heels to replace bone cancer afflicted patients.
There are several factors which help the 3D printed drugs market to grow. One key advantage is their instantaneous solubility. 3D printed drugs are produced using powder bed inkjet printing. The elements of the drug are added in a layer by layer approach akin to 3D printing for any other device. This makes the drugs easier to swallow and can be very helpful for patients suffering from dysphagia. 3D printing could also augment the arrival of individualised drugs, or the creation of a combination of drugs. They could be customised for each patient, which would help much more than batch-produced drugs since they would be created specifically taking into account that patient’s medical history. The 3D printed drug market could also make children far less resistant to taking their required medication, since they may be able to choose the shape, colour, design and even taste of the tablet! These are anticipated to be the main drivers of the 3D printed drug market.
Everyday products that fill a household seem simple enough to make. However, most require a complex mold process. First, a liquid is poured into a mold cavity. After it dries, the mold is peeled away to reveal the new plastic design.
Items like plastic bottles, soap dispensers and medicine bottles are all made with this process. Most cosmetics also come in plastic containers made with mold releases.
The rise of 3D printing has made it easier than ever to design complex shapes without the need for a mold. The technology is making a significant impact on several industries, including the cosmetics industry.
The fifth Innovation Food Conference — iFood 2019 — will be held at Anuga in Cologne, Germany, in October. Suitable for food retailers, technologists and manufacturers, the conference aims to jointly work out approaches for the development of efficient value chains for sustainable and attractive products.
Speakers at the iFood conference will discuss the ecological, social and economic dimensions of sustainability, addressing issues such as ethics, animal welfare, resource efficiency, consumer health and food authenticity.
Presentations about digitalisation will encompass many topics pertaining to the food industry. The conference will question what digitalisation offers to the food industry in terms of transparency and traceability, and the role of artificial intelligence within the food industry. Experts will provide insights into the economic impacts and opportunities of digitalisation, alongside discussing topics such as blockchain.
3D printing is hitting the runway at New York Fashion Week as textiles are using the technology for designs.
Stratasys, threeASFOUR and Travis Fitch collaborated on the Chro-Morpho collection, which is inspired by microscopic colors and light filtering of butterfly wings.
Using a Stratasys J750 PolyJet printer, designers were able to add polymers to textiles. For Stratasys, the aim is to develop the fashion market and enable more than 500,000 combinations of colors, textures, and transparencies.
Today, the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), Scotland, and Airbus Defence and Space launched a project that may see additive manufacturing applied to the production of fuel tanks. The project to be undertaken between the two partners aims to reshore space propellant tank manufacture in the UK. Independent welding research organization TWI has been enlisted to help decipher which method is best suited for competitively producing the tanks. Efforts are being funded by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Renato Bellarosa, Head of Tank Products and Research and Technology (R&T) Manager at Airbus DS, comments, “Propellant tanks are key strategic items that we currently must procure from Germany or the United States, and we are working to re-establish the capability to make them in the UK. We had this in the past, but it was lost when the parent company of the firm involved took the production back to Germany.
In an attempt to shorten the U.S. military’s supply chain, the United States Army Research Laboratory has awarded a $15 million contract to 3D systems to develop a metal printing 3D printer.
The company will team up with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) to develop the “largest, fastest, most precise metal 3D printer.”
The intent is to add capabilities to military supply chains developing and manufacturing combat vehicles, helicopters, missile defense capabilities, long rang munitions, and more.
The project is a part of the United States Army’s Additive Manufacturing Implementation Plan that uses 3D printing technologies to refurbish and create military parts and tools.