Additive Manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, plays a key role in the R&D portfolio of the Damen Shipyards Group. Building special purpose vessels for niche markets, our products contain complex metal components for which AM holds great potential.
Pioneering additive manufacturing applications in the maritime industry
Damen started its efforts in the field of additive manufacturing several years ago by contributing in a joint industry research project. This project gave us the confidence that AM can enable a next generation of high-end ships ready for tomorrow’s challenges. Since January 2017 Damen is a partner in the RAMLAB, a field lab for Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In this field lab Damen is working on the development of AM applications for the maritime industry.
Contributing to the maturing of the technology
Damen started its efforts in the field with an internal study into which components are suitable for AM. In this study a cost-, dimension- and weight analysis was performed for the components on board of our ships. These results were compared to a cost estimation for AM based on commercially available systems. Parallel to the internal investigation the material properties of metal components made by means of WAAM were investigated. The material tests showed that static and fatigue properties of material samples made by WAAM meet existing rules and regulations for maritime structures.
Pilot project printing first class approved maritime component in the world
Together with a number of partners Damen is working on the development of a 3D printed propeller. This project marks the first application of a metal printed object for maritime applications. The propeller is due for delivery in summer 2017. Subsequently trials will take place to validate the use of WAAM for the maritime industry.
Enabling performance increase
AM can be a cost effective alternative to traditional manufacturing methods for existing designs, but the true potential consists of the new design space that opens up. AM enables complex designs which are not cost effective for traditional manufacturing methods. As a part of its long term research program, Damen is working on making the next generation of maritime components for the vessel of the future. By means of topology optimization- and shape generation algorithms new structural designs are developed. This can be translated into properties such as reduced weight and increased speed for our vessels.
Future potential for new value offering for customers
Besides increased performance of ships Damen sees other benefits of AM for customers. AM will revolutionize the supply chain of maritime components. Damen is investigating the possibility to supply parts on demand. This reduces the need for customers to keep costly spares on stock. AM significantly reduces the lead time on components and with a network of printers it will be possible to deliver parts anywhere in the world in a matter of days.
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