Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: New Orleans Louisiana
Thanked 132 Times in 126 Posts
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Re: 3D Printing of Sailboats
The one in that keeps getting raised is the cost of the machines. I frankly don't see that as a particularly big impediment. Go take a walk around any long term boat builders yard and you will see hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars worth of molds rotting pretty much everywhere. Switching to a printer eliminates all these costs immediately.
As an example, I am working with a builder that just invested in four more molds to build a 20' boat. Each mold costs about $100,000 plus between $10,000 and $20,000 to ship it to where it is needed. So this small builder now owns about $750,000 worth of molds that have no residual value. Should people stop ordering boats, there is no way to recover any money from these things. Which means there is a huge financial risk for every mold that needs to be built.
In addition, the ease of switching from one boat to another is as simple as loading a different program into the database. So instead of needing molds spread all over the world to reduce shipping costs of individual boats the file could be emailed to the buyers nearest printing company, allowing delivery cost to be minimal.
In short, I don't think the printers will be owned by industrial print shops not boat builders, then the raw hull will be trucked to a builder for finishing work and systems install. But the cost of the machine is of negligible concern.