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.
The 3D printing industry was worth $3bn in 2013 and grew to $7bn in 2017. GlobalData forecasts the 3D printing market to account for more than $20bn in spend by 2025.
As 3D printing develops it is now starting to be realised in a wide variety of industries, but its potential in the aerospace and defence industry is significant and most major militaries and companies are exploring their options with the technology.
Some are still in the testing phase, while others are actually deploying the technology in final production. This is particularly true in the aerospace industry, where engines, aircraft and even satellites are using 3D printed components at present.
Listed below are the militaries that have taken an early lead in implementing 3D printing technology, as identified by GlobalData.
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.
Last year, the Ramdani family in France, became the first in the world to move into a three-dimensionally-printed house.
A team of scientists and architects designed their comfy 95m² home in a studio, with the design programmed into a 3D printer. This was then brought to the site of the home and printed in layers from the floor upwards. After just 54 hours, the Ramdani family had a new four-bedroomed home.
But France isn’t the only country, which has embraced 3D technology to solve its housing issues.
CECIMO, the association representing the interests of machine tool and manufacturing technologies, has released a new statement concerning additive manufacturing’s position in upcoming discussions by the European Commission.
Having given a formal statement in March 2019, CECIMO has reiterated its commitment to keeping additive manufacturing at the center of decisions relating to product liability, intellectual property (IP) rights, and the U.S.-EU trade deal.
“Before the end of the year,” the association states, “additive manufacturing will be at the centerstage at the European level.”
The Commission is due to publish a new study and guidelines that will rekindle debates surrounding quality standards and the difference between Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) relations. In such debates, the association reiterates, “CECIMO will address policymakers to avoid burdening the sector with unnecessary regulation.”
The fifth Innovation Food Conference — iFood 2019 — will be held at Anuga in Cologne, Germany, in October. Suitable for food retailers, technologists and manufacturers, the conference aims to jointly work out approaches for the development of efficient value chains for sustainable and attractive products.
Speakers at the iFood conference will discuss the ecological, social and economic dimensions of sustainability, addressing issues such as ethics, animal welfare, resource efficiency, consumer health and food authenticity.
Presentations about digitalisation will encompass many topics pertaining to the food industry. The conference will question what digitalisation offers to the food industry in terms of transparency and traceability, and the role of artificial intelligence within the food industry. Experts will provide insights into the economic impacts and opportunities of digitalisation, alongside discussing topics such as blockchain.
3D printing is hitting the runway at New York Fashion Week as textiles are using the technology for designs.
Stratasys, threeASFOUR and Travis Fitch collaborated on the Chro-Morpho collection, which is inspired by microscopic colors and light filtering of butterfly wings.
Using a Stratasys J750 PolyJet printer, designers were able to add polymers to textiles. For Stratasys, the aim is to develop the fashion market and enable more than 500,000 combinations of colors, textures, and transparencies.
Amid the general euphoria about the opportunities presented by additive manufacturing, there are those who take a more level-headed view of the disruptiveness of the technology. According to Nigel Flowers, United Kingdom managing director of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, for example, injection molding and additive manufacturing are more complementary to one another than competitors.
“While we cannot knock the level of innovation happening in the 3D printing space, in reality, additive manufacturing is not the universal panacea it’s made out to be. Right now, it continues to perform strongest for prototyping rather than mass manufacturing,” Flowers said.
The idea that 3D printers are about to overthrow traditional manufacturing techniques — including molding, forging, casting and even subtractive CNC manufacturing — is simply scaremongering, he said.
Award-winning OEM GE Additive has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the New South Wales (NSW) Government in Australia to develop a 3D printing aerospace centre at the Western Sydney Aerotropolis.
Following a visit to the GE Additive Customer Experience Centre in Munich, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “3D printing is on the cutting edge of manufacturing globally and this deal will help make Western Sydney the nation’s leader.”
“Our partnership with GE Additive will create many hi-tech jobs across the aerospace, medical and automotive sectors.”
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are scaling their adoption of 3D printing technology, especially in the construction sector
Few industries are witnessing widespread adoption of 3D printing technology, which represents only 0.1 percent of the total $13.1 trillion value added through the global manufacturing industry.
Advisory firm Moody’s Investors Service says that 3D printing technology is used in niche applications and will help boost companies’ profitability and market shares in a limited number of industries.
Manufacturers of consumer goods such as eyewear and footwear are among the industries with the strongest near-term growth prospects for the adoption of 3D printing. Other industries that will benefit include aerospace, medical devices, automotive and capital equipment, but to varying degrees, according to Moody’s report.