Merchant ship owners to produce spare parts on demand using 3D printing

Merchant ship owners will now use 3D printing technology. Source: Shutterstock

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.

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3D printing system used to accelerate tissue engineering research at The University of Sheffield

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.

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What are the benefits of 3D printing technology?

Professionals are most commonly using 3D printing technology for prototyping prospective products/parts/components

One of the fastest-growing developments in the world of technology has been that of 3D printing. It is the process of depositing successive layers of material (e.g. plastic, metal, wax etc.) in a 3D printer, to create a physical object envisioned from a digital model.

3D printing technology has already been heavily adopted in industries like aerospace, automotive and industrial goods. With organizations in these respective industries utilizing 3D printing for aspects such as making those parts/components that cannot be manufactured through conventional machining or laser processing techniques. 

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Who will make the most automotive AM end-use parts and where?

SmarTech Analysis just released a new report on automotive additive manufacturing. This new edition follows the report published compiled last year, however, this is not just a new and updated edition. It is an entirely new report, which, for the first time, moves entirely away from AM for prototypes to focus exclusively on automotive AM end-use parts production, which is now fully within reach and is going to enable additive manufacturing to finally scale up.

The term “end-use parts” is used in the report to indicate both final automotive parts and tools (and tools include molds, dies, jigs and fixtures as well as custom assembly tools) used in the automotive production process.

The depth of automotive AM end-use parts

In order to provide new and more detailed information in its forecasts, the report leverages data from SmarTech’s unique and industry-leading database and dissects into more segments. These include two key areas: one is geographic, with country-specific forecasts. The other is relative to the supply chain, trying to answer the question that most automakers are asking themselves: where is the money coming from (that will drive AM adoption in the automotive industry)?

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3D metal printer to shorten military supply chain

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.”

3d metal 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.

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Supply chain expands to meet demand for 3D-printed space parts

It’s not clear whether the additive manufacturing supply chain will expand rapidly enough to meet growing demand for 3D-printed parts for spacecraft or launch vehicles.

When companies are starting out, it’s easy for them to turn to additive manufacturing service providers for a few parts, said Scott Killian, aerospace business development manager for EOS North America. “Once companies move into production, they’re going to have to figure out whether the supply chain can still meet their needs,” he added. “There’s a lot of ebb and flow right now on getting that supply chain to ramp up.”

Many space companies work directly with EOS, a German manufacturer of 3D printing machines, or print parts on EOS equipment operated by additive manufacturing service providers. The only rocket customer Killian can discuss is Launcher. The New York company developing a 3D-printed copper bi-metal engine has agreed to a joint marketing campaign with EOS.

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Reimagining the future of manufacturing

Not since the first Industrial Revolution has the manufacturing industry transformed more than it has in the last 20 years. New technologies including robotics, computer-driven manufacturing, and data analytics have helped companies increase supply chain efficiencies to keep up with demand, but what if a bigger manufacturing industry transformation was on the horizon? Take a moment and imagine manufacturing becoming fully digital, allowing us to produce and distribute custom products to meet demand in near real-time.

Fast Radius - Carbon lab

That’s the vision that’s being brought to reality by Chicago-based additive manufacturer Fast Radius.

I recently had the privilege of visiting their facility in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood and spoke with Fast Radius Chief Executive Officer Lou Rassey and Chief Operating Officer Pat McCusker, learning more about the company, its vision and strategy, and expansive list of clients. I found the scope of what Fast Radius does stretches far past the incremental improvements in efficiency the manufacturing industry expects.

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Reimagining the future Of manufacturing

Not since the first Industrial Revolution has the manufacturing industry transformed more than it has in the last 20 years. New technologies including robotics, computer-driven manufacturing, and data analytics have helped companies increase supply chain efficiencies to keep up with demand, but what if a bigger manufacturing industry transformation was on the horizon? Take a moment and imagine manufacturing becoming fully digital, allowing us to produce and distribute custom products to meet demand in near real-time.

Fast Radius - Carbon lab

That’s the vision that’s being brought to reality by Chicago-based additive manufacturer Fast Radius.

I recently had the privilege of visiting their facility in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood and spoke with Fast Radius Chief Executive Officer Lou Rassey and Chief Operating Officer Pat McCusker, learning more about the company, its vision and strategy, and expansive list of clients. I found the scope of what Fast Radius does stretches far past the incremental improvements in efficiency the manufacturing industry expects.

Read more

Professionals reveal how they are benefiting from 3D printing technology

One of the fastest-growing developments in the world of technology has been that of 3D printing.

It is the process of depositing successive layers of material (e.g. plastic, metal, wax etc.) in a 3D printer, to create a physical object envisioned from a digital model.

3D printing technology has already been heavily adopted in industries like aerospace, automotive and industrial goods. With organisations in these respective industries utilising 3D printing for aspects such as making those parts/components that cannot be manufactured through conventional machining or laser processing techniques.

Interested in cutting-edge technology, mobile phone specialists Case24.com analysed findings from online 3D printing services provider Sculpteo, who surveyed 1,000 professionals (from a range of industries) to better understand how they are using 3D printing technology.

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The 3D printing promise of weight optimization is not about parts, it’s about systems

A key lesson learned talking with aerospace 3D printing companies at PAS 2019, that can be applied to all industrial segments

The Paris Air Show was a huge success for the largest aerospace players and for many innovative aerospace 3D printing companies. The aviation and space industries are rocketing toward booming growth with no slow down anywhere on the horizon. While additive manufacturing is still just a tiny – to use a euphemism – segment of aerospace manufacturing, all leading companies in aerospace are very much invested in developing it. The reason may be found in one of the largest deals ever closed during the show: the $55 billion in orders that CFM – a joint venture between GE and Safran – received for its LEAP engine. The LEAP engine is super efficient and is enabling a new generation of single-aisle jets – such as the Airbus321neo flown by French operator Le Compagnie in its new all-business flights – to make trips across the Atlantic on a single tank of fuel.

Last April, for instance, a LEAP-engine-powered Airbus A321neo LR loaded with 162 dummy passengers and 16 crew completed a test flight from Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, to the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean that lasted 11 hours and covered 5,466 miles. It was the longest distance flight in the certification process of the A321neo. At the Paris Air Show Airbus formally unveiled a new long-range A321neo, officially designated the A321XLR, which will become available from 2023. The twinjet will have a maximum take-off weight of 101t and a range of 4,700nm compared with the 4,000nm of the current 97t long-range A321LR variant. GE and most operators expect that these efficient single-aisle aircraft will make up the bulk of order for the foreseeable future.

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