3D printing technology is expected to improve the manufacturing process in several industries. This technology is especially projected to drive the manufacturing process in the component manufacturing sectors. The use of 3D printing technology is relatively a new concept in the maritime field. However, the application of this technology is highly viable in the shipbuilding sector in view of the demand for broad ranging and voluminous number of components used in the vessels.
The China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation announced recently that in their latest research and development project they have achieved a breakthrough in the 3D printing technology. This state owned shipbuilder’s 705th Research Institute was established in the year 1992 and was aimed at developing complicated castings and equipment. Several tests were conducted on the DMLS technique. This ADM technique utilizes a laser as a power source which sinters powdered material generally into metal and aims the laser at points in the space which is defined by a 3D model. This binds the material together to create a highly solid structure that a density of 99%.
According to CSIC, in order to continue their development of the 3D printing technology they will expand their material manufacturing base in Kunming region and also establish in the Yunnan province a technology center. Furthermore, these developments are expected to support production using DMLS. It is also expected to kick start the related facilities for this technology and simultaneously continue the research and development.
In an earlier article, it was elaborated that the use of 3D printing in the field of maritime can help reduce environmental impact and cost that is related to supplying spares to the ships. Furthermore, there was a mention in the article of the Maersk Tankers that conducted an experimented using the 3D printing technology on board one of the ships. This experiment explored the concept of printing their own parts on the vessel itself rather than having to transport these parts to the vessel.