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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Testing the potential of additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has the potential to transform the maritime equipment supply chain. With the adoption of technology enabling printing in metal, vital spare parts and system components can now be printed on demand in locations around the world, including on vessels themselves. The result is dramatically reduced lead times, costs, labour needs, stock requirements and environmental impact (with less logistics and less waste), as well as the complete disruption of traditional business models.

And that’s just the supply side. The impact on manufacturing capability is just as radical. Suddenly the constraints of traditional processes can be broken, with machines bringing previously impossible designs to life through the precise application of layer upon layer of metals. For the frontrunners in maritime manufacturing, such as Wärtsilä Moss AS (a division of Wärtsilä Marine Solutions), it represents a special kind of magic.

Unique potential

“We came up with a new design that could only be realized with AM fabrication,” he explains. “The geometry of the part, the complexity involved in producing it, makes it far too difficult and expensive to manufacture using traditional methods. It can only be brought to life with AM.”

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US Navy holds event to promote 3D printing at shipyards

The US Navy has conducted Print Sprint II event in San Diego to encourage the use of 3D printing technology at naval shipyards to support fleets.

Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Tactical Innovation Implementation Lab (TIIL) organised the event designed to enable navy maintenance providers to work collaboratively to develop new 3D printing solutions and applications.

Print Sprint II comes after the first print sprint was conducted last year at Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Keyport to gauge the fleet and shipyards’ abilities to create a random part in a short time through additive manufacturing.

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The biggest waves in maritime additive manufacturing

Maritime AM

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.

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3D printing to produce maritime spare parts and cut out supply chain and logistics costs

Norwegian classification society DNV GL and all round industry group has been appointed as the lead researcher of the first phase of a new Singapore based programme to study the feasibility of additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, in the maritime industry. In a Joint Industry Program (JIP) initiated by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), DNV GL will team up with ten member companies of the Singapore Ship Association (SSA) to examine how spare parts produced by 3D printers can help the capital-intensive industry to cut costs and downtimes.

Shipping News Feature

The goal of the JIP is to establish a list of commonly-ordered parts that are highly feasible for 3D printing with or without certification. The findings aim to encourage more maritime players to adopt AM to optimize their spare parts supply, and overall to strengthen Singapore’s value proposition as a one-stop shop with port services supporting a diverse ecosystem of shipping lines and maritime companies.

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INTERVIEW: Ivaldi launches on-demand 3D printing service for maritime sector with Wilhelmsen

Advanced and additive manufacturing service bureau Ivaldi Group has partnered with Wilhelmsen, the largest maritime network in the world. Operating from a new additive manufacturing facility in Singapore, Ivaldi will provide Wilhelmsen with on-demand spare part production for ships and other maritime equipment, potentially servicing upwards of 100 vessels per day.

Spare parts 3D printing at Ivaldi. Photo via Ivaldi Group

Speaking with Espen Sivertsen, CEO of Ivaldi Group, 3D Printing Industry learned more about the company’s latest move, and the apparent rise of additive manufacturing in maritime.

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Interview: Maritime 3D printing with RAMLAB and SEMBCORP Marine

Simon Kuik from Sembcorp Marine. Photo: RENDY ARYANTO/Visual Verve Studios.3D printing for the maritime and energy industries is the focus of NAMIC’s 5th additive manufacturing summit later this month.

Taking place in Singapore, the Maritime and Energy AM Summit is organized by the country’s National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC), an organization focused on developing a collaborative and innovative ecosystem for additive manufacturing.

At the event 3D printing experts will gather to discuss operationalising AM, how 3D printing is revolutionising the energy industry, the future of advanced manufacturing and other related topics.

I caught up with two of the experts presenting work at the NAMIC AM summit to learn more.

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Create It Real to explore 3D printing spare parts and IP rights through maritime project

Create It Real maritime project .pngCreate It Real, a Danish 3D printing company, has established a pilot project with the Green Ship of the Future consortium to explore printing on board ships and address Intellectual Property (IP) rights.

The project is part of the Green Ship of the Future’s ‘The maritime opportunity space of 3D print’ portfolio, and will specifically look into the streamlining of its supply chain by printing spare parts as and when necessary. It is being financed by the Danish Maritime Fund.

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3D printed ship’s propeller takes step closer to completion

A prototype of the world’s first class approved ship’s propeller has been produced using 3D printing techniques. The 1,350mm diameter propeller – named WAAMpeller – is the result of a cooperative consortium of companies that includes DAMEN Shipyards Group, RAMLAB, Promarin, Autodesk and Bureau Veritas.

The WAAMpeller was fabricated from a Nickel Aluminium Bronze (NAB) alloy at RAMLAB (Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing LAB) in the Port of Rotterdam. The propeller was produced with the Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) method using a Valk welding system and Autodesk software. The triple- blade structure uses a Promarin design that is used on Damen’s Stan Tug 1606. With production complete, the WAAMpeller will be CNC milled at ‘Autodesk’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Birmingham, UK’.

This prototype 3D printed propeller represents a steep learning curve of the understanding of material properties. “This is because 3D printed materials are built up layer by layer,” says Kees Custers, Project Engineer in Damen’s R&D department. “As a consequence, they display different physical properties in different directions – a characteristic known as anisotropy. Steel or casted materials, on the other hand, are isotropic – they have the same properties in all directions.”

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Mapping a path to 3D printing marine and offshore parts

Mapping a path to 3D printing marine and offshore partsAdditive Manufacturing (AM) is emerging as a preferred term for what most us call 3D printing. Be that as it may, using the deposition of material to build up a part, rather than machining material away — could soon be used to rapidly make large parts for the marine and offshore industry.

LR (Lloyd’s Register) recently held a qualification workshop for Keppel Marine and Offshore and the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing at Nanyang Technological University to map out a safe, sustainable and quality-driven approach to additive manufacturing (AM) of metallic parts intended for rugged environments, such as shipping and offshore oil and gas production.

Qualification is a critical step towards certification and adoption of industrial products made by AM. The workshop focused on a broad range of knowledge and skills required to demonstrate competency in AM and to meet industry quality and safety regulations and standards.

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