Whatever Prints your Boat

On September 19–22, 2019, in a period of 72 hours, the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center produced a complete, seaworthy boat in a single pass with the world’s largest 3D printer (additive manufacturing machine), developed by Ingersoll Machine Tools.  Here is a time lapse video of the entire construction process.

The completed boat is 7.62 metres long and has a mass of 2.2 tonnes.  The construction was certified on October 10th for three Guinness World Records: world’s largest prototype polymer 3D printer, largest solid 3D-printed object, and largest 3D-printed boat.

The printer, which resembles a travelling bridge crane, can fabricate objects as large as 30 metres long, 6.7 metres wide, and 3 metres high, and deposits up to 225 kg of polymer material per hour.

University of Maine 3D printed boat

Here is a “Where Nerdy Is Cool!” video about the printer and the construction of the boat.

10+
avataravataravataravataravataravataravataravataravataravatar

Author: John Walker

Founder of Ratburger.org, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of www.fourmilab.ch.

3 thoughts on “Whatever Prints your Boat”

  1. In terms of their competitiveness with traditional manufacturing, I wonder about the range of materials currently available for use in 3D printers. Is the state of the art such that most any object can now be 3D printed with a material whose properties render it competitive with the “original”? If so, are costs likely to be favorable? I am imagining that significant savings would result from the ability to go directly from design on a computer to manufacture by printing. Would such savings be of such a magnitude, in general, so as to reduce the impact of the cost of the printing material itself?

    4+
    avataravataravataravatar
  2. Another nail in the coffin to centralization of industry. I can see fab shops every 100 miles to meet parts and product businesses on a per order basis. Only the raw materials part needs scale.

    5+
    avataravataravataravataravatar
  3. civil westman:
    Is the state of the art such that most any object can now be 3D printed with a material whose properties render it competitive with the “original”? If so, are costs likely to be favorable? I am imagining that significant savings would result from the ability to go directly from design on a computer to manufacture by printing. Would such savings be of such a magnitude, in general, so as to reduce the impact of the cost of the printing material itself?

    These questions are essentially impossible to answer at less than book length, and any such book would be largely out of date with a year, given the rate at which additive manufacturing technology is changing.  Materials range all over the map: from soft plastics used by hobbyists (which aren’t all that much different from hot glue) to titanium and exotic alloys used in aerospace which are processed in a vacuum with techniques such as electron beam sintering.  Obviously, the properties of what you can make depend upon the materials available, and the materials presently used in additive manufacturing are a small subset of those used in industry as a whole.  Nobody is going to be 3D printing engine blocks any time in the foreseeable future: when you’re making a lot of something it’s hard to beat casting and machining.

    Costs are largely the classic trade-off between set-up cost and cost per unit in quantity.  If you’re making a million of something, you can afford the time and money to make custom molds, dies, robotic assembly, etc. to knock a few cents off the price of each one.  If you’re making tens, hundreds, or even low thousands, you may end up saving money by 3D printing even though the unit cost is higher due to the set-up cost being very low.  (And, in development, it is very cheap to make changes to the design, while this is costly in a mass manufacturing set-up.)

    3D printing makes sense for things like complex parts of the F-35, rocket engine components, etc. precisely because the numbers made are so small.  The cost of the printing material is rarely the dominant factor.  In aerospace, you can often spend much more on coatings and heat treating that the bulk material, and you need to do that regardless of whether you use traditional manufacturing or 3D printing.

    5+
    avataravataravataravataravatar

Leave a Reply