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post #4 of Old 12-11-2013
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Re: 3D Printing of Sailboats

3D printing isn't new; it's at least 20 years old. My engineering school bought a 3D printer when I was a freshman or sophomore. What's new is the ability to do it with machines that cost a few thousand dollars, and in something that can fit on a desk. They are constantly developing new materials to use, too.

One of the big problems with 3D printing is that it takes a long time. The piece has to be built up layer-by-layer, and in many cases those layers are only a few thousandths of an inch thick, at most. Trying to print a 40' boat would take forever. What I CAN see it being used for, though, are models. For example, if Bob Perry wanted to give his clients a chance to "see" what their boat will look like, he could get a desktop printer and print them something at 1:40 or 1:50 scale in a day or two. They could also test the performance in a wind tunnel/water tank if they wanted (though things like weight ratios will probably be off).

- Jim
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